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Ambiguously Human

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Blue skin and six-fingered hands are quite odd
When Zigzag is supposed to be as human as King Nod.
"There's lots of humans. There's my dad, Connie, Lars and Sadie, the mailman, Onion... I think."

It's no secret that all sorts of weird beings exist alongside humans. Stories in the fantasy genre, for instance, give us fairy-tale figures like dragons, witches and wizards, elves and dwarves, and whatever other oddities a specific author may come up with to give their world some personal flavor. On the Science Fiction side of things, we meet aliens, robots, artificial intelligences, freaks of nature and all manner of homunculi. No matter how wildly they vary from one another, and from one series to the next, however, they all have one thing in common: they're physically distinct from humans, even if it's not by much.

Every now and again, though, while exploring the Fantasy Kitchen Sink, you'll run into a character of indeterminable race or species. Sure, they seem human, what with their upright stance, human-like intelligence, and ability to speak, and yet there's just something about them that gives them away as something distinctly other. Maybe it's that they live in a series where no human can do the things they do, maybe it's that a certain part of their body (or even most of it) is kept conspicuously concealed or they explicitly have a visible part of their body that's unusual such as weird-coloured hair or Four-Fingered Hands (provided not everyone in the work looks like that), maybe they were clearly human at some point but something happened to them that may have made them undead/supernatural, or maybe it's that there just plain aren't any "other" humans around, raising suspicions. This person is Ambiguously Human. Fairly often, a series will go out of its way to avoid stating their out-and-out species, or they'll be called human or nonhuman in spite of their shared traits. If you can't figure out whether they spawned from the same end of the gene pool as you just by looking at them, though, they fit the bill.

Not to be confused with Rubber-Forehead Aliens, a trope more closely related to Special Effect Failure than to this. Or with Humans by Any Other Name, where it's clear enough that these are humans, only another term is used, to the exclusion of the word "human". Conversely, Our Humans Are Different is when you call a smeerp a human. Don't expect the writers of the work to explain just what the character is exactly supposed to be.

Inversions of this trope would involve a character being shown as non-human but with hint that they may actually be more mundane than they seem. See Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane and Ambiguous Robots (which is restricted to robots).

In Real Life, non-human humanoids don't exist, but this didn't stop people through the ages from believing in the Reptilian Conspiracy or that some celebrities have been replaced by robotic copies. Still, because it would bring controversies more than anything else, No Real Life Examples, Please!.

Related tropes include Human Aliens, Human Subspecies, They Walk Among Us, and What Measure Is a Non-Human?. See also Ambiguous Robots, Ambiguous Gender, Ambiguously Gay, Ambiguously Brown, Ambiguously Bi, Ambiguously Christian, Ambiguously Jewish, and Ambiguous Gender Identity. See Cartoon Creature for characters of indeterminate species that look like real world animal species other than humans. Also see Informed Species, which is when an animal is supposed to be a certain species, but their design says otherwise.

Examples Subpages:

Other Examples:

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  • Although referred to as an alien (and it would make her a Human Alien), Skye in the 2021 John Lewis Christmas advert looks human enough but it's never clarified if she is a human, Half-Human Hybrid or Human Alien, with only her unfamiliarity with earth and Christmas making it quite unclear what she is exactly. She doesn't have any abilities associated with a human alien, but her behavior suggests she isn't quite human.
  • It is never stated what he is exactly, Lil' Sweet is a mysterious, blatantly magical man half the size of a normal human, often appearing out of nowhere, his description not out of place with that of the Wee People of folklore.
  • Pringles: It's unclear if their mascot, Julius Pringles, is meant to be a human or an anthropomorphized Pringles chip.
  • Rice Krispies featured two commercials with Ms. Pink, who is never clarified to be a human or an elf. She's animated, and stands the same size as Snap, Crackle and Pop, but has a distinctly different design, such as round ears, and five fingers on each hand. Snap, Crackle and Pop only have four.
  • Sir Can-A-Lot from the Spam commercials is a human-like knight who is no bigger than a salt shaker. Also, his body has a salt shaker shape to it.
  • The Ty-D-Bol Man is a little man who rides a motorboat in people's toilets, encouraging them to buy Ty-D-Bol. Hey, The '70s were weird, man.
  • Mr. Clean, the mascot for cleaning products, sometimes appears and disappears, and he has traits that are associated with genies (crossed arms, associated with bottles, gold earring, etc). Which raises the question if he's a real genie, or a human who just has genie-like mannerisms.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • In the (two-part) one-shot comic "Madman Across the Water", which has the Rogues Gallery traveling from Arkham Asylum to Blackgate Penitentiary to play baseball against the prisoners there, one of the Arkham players is a green-skinned man named Dr. Faustus, who, as Dr. Jeremiah Arkham puts it, "claims to be immortal, although our records show him to be 43." Dr. Faustus also crashes a helicopter at the climax of the story, convinced his "immortality" will allow him to live through the crash... which it doesn't. There's also a minor character who has purple skin and zombie-like eyes; he's one of the Blackgate players, but all the other Blackgate inmates are recognizably human. No mention is ever made about this character looking so different.
    • The Joker has no origin story that he didn't make up himself, his bleached white skin and neon green hair (which he claims are the results of an acid bath) give him a distinctly inhuman appearance, he has cheated death so many times it's both speculated in- and out-of-universe that he's immortal, and he thinks and acts in ways so unpredictable and bizarre that the greatest superheroes and supervillains in The DCU are constantly on edge around him, but there's nothing definitive to say that he's anything other than "just" a normal, murderous human.
    • Killer Croc is supposedly just an unusually large and strong man with a rare skin condition — however, Depending on the Artist, he has a bunch of other reptilian/crocodile-like traits such as the ability to stay underwater for long periods, a pronounced snout and reptilian eyes. Sometimes he even has a tail.
    • Batman's adopted daughter Cassandra and her biological mother Lady Shiva are both ambiguously meta-human due to their incredible Charles Atlas Superpower. They're canonically the #1 and #2 fighters in the entire DC Universe and have abilities that stretch the capabilities of what humans can do. Cassandra went through Training from Hell but Shiva didn't, implying that their abilities are somewhat In the Blood.
  • Cybersix looks and acts entirely human, but then she (and all of von Reichter's creations) were, well, created by him through cybernetic/genetic engineering.
  • Sometimes DC Comics will have comic relief characters with tenuous-at-best ties to continuity — like Ambush Bug or 'Mazing Man — who have cartoonish bodies (oversized heads or feet, unnaturally thin limbs, no nose, etc.) but everyone they interact with is a normally proportioned human. They're gonks. They're assumed to be human because, well, what else would they be?
  • Dollicious: The titular "Dollicious" (Delisie in the original Polish) are an all-female species with hair made of food and that all appear to have personality characteristics based on the food that they are a reference to.
  • Runaways:
    • It's still unclear what all of the "wonders" from Joss Whedon's arc are. It doesn't help that the word is apparently used as an umbrella term for various sources of power. However, it's worth noting that of the most prominent examples, Lillie and Tristan manage to live to be at least 116 years old, since they're both still alive in the modern day, and Tristan is able to survive having gigantic metal wings bolted onto his body and a nuclear blast.
    • In the original series, Molly's parents at one point insist that she can't possibly be a mutant, because they had her tested for the X-gene and the tests came back negative, raising the possibility that she's something else. The 2017 series finally sheds some light on this; Molly's grandmother is a mutant and a geneticist who artificially altered her daughter and adopted son's genes to give them superpowers, and they then passed those altered genes down to Molly, granting her powers but not necessarily making her a mutant.
  • Miho and Kevin from Sin City appear to be human, but according to Word of God, are supernatural beings — they don't speak, have incredible stamina and fighting skills, and don't appear to feel pain. They also don't seem to need to eat, although Kevin does anyway.
  • Grimer Wormtongue from Sonic the Comic has greenish skin, giving him an almost gremlin-like appearance
  • The Iron Queen in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) was this at first. She looked like an Overlander, but was married to the Iron King, an ox. Word of God claimed she was a badger at the time. However, when Ian Flynn brought her back, he reversed this. The Queen is indeed human, and the titles are purely honorary.
  • In Spellbinders, the wicks are descended from magic users who fled another world in order to come to Salem. Exactly what that makes them is unclear.
  • Stardust the Super Wizard looks human, but is about eight feet tall and comes from outer space. His proportions are also pretty freakish, but that might just be the result of Fletcher Hanks' art style. He has no backstory or explanation for who/what he is.
  • It can be hard to tell if characters from Strontium Dog are mutants or aliens by looking at them. In universe, nobody knows what No Bones Jones the plastic man is.
  • Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias from Watchmen is a downplayed example of this — he's definitely human in the sense of having human parents and being well within a normal human lifespan, but his abilities go beyond the Charles Atlas Superpower that he casually states them to be (not only is he fast enough to catch a bullet, but it doesn't go all the way through his hand or even disable it at all) and he barely ages. Given the way that the comic deconstructs common superhero tropes, it's highly possible that he's a mutant in a setting with no concept of the idea. It certainly doesn't hurt that he's an Expy of Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt, who really was superhuman (albeit in a Charles Atlas Superpower fashion).
  • Wonder Woman: The Amazons look human and Depending on the Writer have no superhuman abilities. While key Amazons of importance like Diana, Artemis, Donna Troy (who is adopted) and Grace Choi have displayed superpowers, it isn't quite clear if all Amazons have powers and like the mutants from X-Men, they have shown the ability to interbreed with normal humans.
  • X-Men:
    • There seems to be no real consensus as to whether the mutants are human or not. They refer to themselves as "Homo superior" which would make them not human (or at least not the same species of human), but it's unclear whether that's an accepted taxonomy or not. They can interbreed with humans, which should make us the same species, and they're often as different from each other as they are from a normal person, so if they're not human, it makes more sense to say each is a Single Specimen Species than that they all make up a single separate species (some do pass on their powers to their children, making, for example, Banshee and Siryn a species of two, though if they have the exact same powers, the children technically aren't actually mutants). In light of how otherwise ordinary humans such as the Fantastic Four can gain superhuman powers either by accident or even deliberate artificial augmentation, the public assertion that mutants are not human because they are born with powers reflects a social judgement. However, even the X-Men themselves started strongly taking up the claim that they are a separate species, which ultimately just validates the claims of their enemies. However, aliens definitely consider mutants to be humans.
    • Later years reveal even more groups that the former mutants fall into: There's "Homo Supreme", a sort of super-mutant; the only known example is Mr. Immortal, who is theorized to have "evolved past death". Every Canadian mutant with a tie to Wolverine is actually a Lupine. They tend to be characterized by having a set of powers corresponding to an animal and a Healing Factor. Jamie Madrox/Multiple Man is a changeling and is characterized by being born with his powers active, unlike most mutants who only "turn on" at puberty.
    • Also, what a mutant is isn't quite clear. While the "X-factor gene" is how it works for most, the earlier explanations tying it to environmental factors such as radiation causing the affected persons' children to be mutants (Sunfire comes to mind) have never quite been made non-canon, and there are children who inherited their non-mutant super-powered parents' gifts (or other powers) and are considered mutants... and ones that did who are not. Sunfire is a mutant because his parents were in Hiroshima and so he was born with The Power of the Sun, Storm is a mutant because of the X-factor gene, Franklin Richards is explicitly a mutant because his parents are cosmic-rays-affected Reed and Sue, while Spider-Girl, inheriting Spider-Man's powers, is explicitly not. There are also mutant Skrulls who, even if born with powers other than Skrull shapeshifting, obviously wouldn't have gotten it from the same gene humans do. It seems mutants are a Human Subspecies (as well as subspecies of whatever other races have them).

    Comic Strips 
  • Spy vs. Spy: The titular spies have Black Bead Eyes and triangular heads. This is made weirder by the fact that no other character in the strips looks like that, so the spies' appearances aren't what a typical human looks like in their universe.

    Fairy Tales 
  • The title character of Rumpelstiltskin is described as a little man, but he has magical powers, easily making him fit the descriptions of elves, fairies, gnomes, goblins, dwarves and the like. His species is also never brought into question.
  • Thumbelina: It's a mystery what the eponymous girl was before becoming a fairy. She's the size of someone's thumb and was born in a flower, but was explicitly not a fairy until she became one.
  • The titular character of Tom Thumb is a tiny human, if you can really call him human. Sure he has all the features of one, but he's two inches tall. And depending on the version, he may or may not be a homunculus.

    Fan Works 
  • A Christmas Carol (Ghostbusters Version is, as the name would suggest, a Fusion Fic taking the cast of Ghostbusters (1984) and putting them inside the plot of A Christmas Carol. Winston, Ray, and Egon are (somewhat ironically) standing in for the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future/Yet to Come respectively. However, at the end, they show up in their canonical human forms as Peter's friends. Thus, it's ambiguous as to whether Winston, Ray, and Egon are ghosts in this story, or if the ghosts decided to take the forms of Peter's friends for whatever reason.
  • This comes up in the beginning of Cross Cases. In the Dresdenverse, you don't get to be human and have powers the likes of what Sam displays without also being a Walking Techbane. The fact that Sam looks and feels perfectly human, and both owns a smartphone and can not only get near a computer without blowing it out, but is also comfortable using one immediately makes Harry question Sam's humanity. At times, Harry doesn't assume even the most basic things about him, like how he'll react to waking up in an unfamiliar place, or if he'll kill some ordinary mortals who caught him hustling pool. For the record, Sam is, in fact, human, or human enough to have a soul for Harry to almost accidentally gaze.
  • DNMC:
    • Nara and Mak's client both qualify, with Nara's Species status being marked as "Rather not say" and Pappel doubting if Mak's client is even human.
    • Azure-2 qualifies as well. While he's described as human in the story, there's something about him that's just... off.
  • In The Elements of Friendship, whatever Pinkie Pie is, she isn't a pony. Not anymore. Not that this bothers her much.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail: Henry and Walter of the Fog Car — aka Silent Hill — are human like they were in their original series. But it turns out that they're actually denizens. What they're really like is unconfirmed so far, with the closest is something so horrifying that the likes of Chloe and Amelia are freaking out over it.
  • In Know Thyself, when Harry meets Dumbledore, he gets a weird reading off of Dumbledore, seeing the code that makes up his body in the matrix pulse slightly. Harry struggles to get a proper read on him, unsure if he's a bluepill, redpill or some unique type of program.
  • The Many Dates of Danny Fenton: The You+Me=LOVE! Dating Service employees, based on the authors of the main story and its spin-offs, appear human to the characters, yet demonstrate subtle hints there is more to them. The head of the service, based on the original author, was able to appear in Clockwork's tower on her own. One of them was present for Kim Possible, Gwen Tennyson, Makoto Kino and Starfire to sign up on the same day in different towns at one. One is even able to break the fourth wall, like Deadpool.
  • A popular Minecraft meme is Herobrine, which has the skin of Steve, the male default player character, but the eyes are whited out. And he's often attributed with supernatural powers. In the original creepypasta, he's implied to be just a game avatar, but that of a ghost playing the game. "Herobrine" was said to be username of the creator's (fictitious) dead brother.
  • In The Nightmare House, which is about the siblings from The Loud House having nightmares, Lucy's nightmare has dancers with creepy colour-changing eyes who chant, "Join us, Lucy" and throw up black slime. They could be weirdoes in strange contacts, possessed humans, or demons.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines has Bloodliners, people who seem human, but have Pokémon-related abilities and characteristics. There's a big question mark over whether they should be considered truly human or not, and considerable debate on the subject exists in the fandom. It's not clear if they're just humans with superpowers, or a different species altogether. On one hand, they look human to the point it's impossible to tell who is or isn't a Bloodliner at first glance unless they use their powers, can have human blood relatives, and it seems like not even qualified medical personnel can find any significant physical differences. On the other hand, they seem to be more physically capable and durable than humans even without taking their special powers into account, have abnormally high metabolisms, and it's possible that there's simply not enough known about bloodliners to know what differences to look for. And that's without mentioning strange physical traits some bloodliners have, such as Red's unusually high body temperature. This ambiguity also comes up in the story itself. Some characters believe them to be just humans with superpowers and other abnormal traits, while others think them to be distinct from humans. Even bloodliners themselves can't come to a consensus, with some considering themselves humans, and others considering themselves something else. And that's without getting into characters who have changed their minds on the topic, like Misty, who started thinking of herself as human again after spending some time traveling with Ash.
  • This is exploited and invoked in RWBY: Second Generation by Verse. He isn't human, but due to a political issue, hides himself as one. He's really a faunus in disguise.
  • Ruby Pair: Zim suspects that Keef is not human due to all the times he's tried to kill him, only for him to come back completely unharmed with no explanation.
  • The Loud House fanfic Singled Out claims that Lola is actually Satan, but it's unclear whether this means Rita somehow gave birth to Satan, or if she started out as human but got corrupted by Satan.
  • Star Wars vs Warhammer 40K: During the Battle of Axum arc, we're introduced to Inquisitor Tahr Whyler, a man who has pale skin, pointed ears, clawed hands, black eyes, shark-like teeth, and speaks with an unnatural rasp. Despite these seemingly inhuman traits, Tahr claims to be 100% human and he would have to be given the prominent position he holds within the Imperium of Man, a government which believes Humans Are Superior and preaches absolute xenophobia. This gets lampshaded by Quinlan Vos when he battles Tahr and notices how the Inquisitor could easily pass for one of the countless Rubber-Forehead Aliens native to the Star Wars galaxy.
  • In Their Bond, Twili are descended from humans but it's unknown if they're a separate species yet. They're humanoid and have the same blood as Hylians.
  • Wild Child AU is an alternate take on the MonsterVerse where Godzilla essentially adopts Madison Russell after the battle against the MUTOs because he assumes that her parents died in the battle. As a result of spending prolonged time with Godzilla, Maddie experiences subtle mutations from exposure to his radiation, allowing her to actually understand the Titans' language, absorb a degree of radiation without harm, and even survive underwater for prolonged periods, as well as manifest scales and bioluminescent freckles. When she finally reunites with her father and brother, these changes are significant enough that she accepts a decision to be classified as a Titan rather than a human, allowing her to alternate between staying with Godzilla or visiting her human family if she chooses.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Peddler from Aladdin, whose rather caricatured look clashes with the movie's other human characters. Moreover, like the dwarfs and the Coachman mentioned below, he has Four-Fingered Hands. This was originally set up to reveal that he was the Genie in disguise. The co-directors state this is still canon, though it contradicts the ending of Aladdin and the King of Thieves, which shows Genie and the Peddler separately together (although it's not like Genie has never duplicated himself before). This original concept was later brought back in the movie's live-action remake.
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Moliere, a.k.a. Mole, the team's geologist, is shorter, more rotund and overall more cartoonish than the other humans in the cast, and shows a lot of eccentric behaviours that all seem to imply he's a mole man rather than a regular human. According to the sequel, he was raised by naked mole rats.
  • The Black Cauldron has the Horned King. It's not clear if he's a demon, a very deformed human, some kind of undead, or something else entirely.
  • Cats Don't Dance: Darla Dimple's manservant Max looks almost like a cross between Frankenstein's Monster and King Kong. While the movie is set in a universe where anthropomorphic animals exist, Max doesn't look like one of those either.
  • Mulan: Some of Shan-Yu's physical characteristics are quite alarming: he has clawed fingernails, fanged teeth, eyes that are definitely not a normal human's, and Super-Strength. But it's never really made clear who or what he's supposed to be other than his given background as a vicious foreign conqueror.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas has Lock, Shock and Barrel. They don't seem to be monsters like the other denizens of Halloween Town and show no signs of having special powers. On the other hand, their appearances are distinctly off compared to the humans of Earth and what human children would be doing in Halloween Town is a mystery.
  • Despite Peter supposedly being human in the Disney incarnation of Peter Pan, he has Pointy Ears.
  • Pinocchio:
  • The Polar Express has the mysterious hobo who sits on the roof of the train. He claims to be the "king of the North Pole" but is obviously not Santa, he says, "Interesting" when the boy says that he doesn't believe in ghosts, and at one point, he vanishes into thin air.
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish:
    • Big Jack Horner has pink skin that almost doesn’t look natural and bizarre proportions, with the upper half of his body being much larger than the lower half. He’s also a lot bigger than the other humans in the film, which may hint that he’s actually some sort of giant.
  • Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School: Miss Grimwood is the most human looking of the school, yet she dresses in odd clothing and she's able to cook and eat things normal humans like Shaggy cannot. It is possible that she is a witch or a sorceress.
  • In the first Shrek movie, Shrek does not seem to distinguish between humans in fairy tales and "regular" humans. Snow White, the Pied Piper, and the Old Lady in the Shoe with her children get moved to Shrek's swamp as Fairy Tale Creatures, while Peter Pan sells Tinkerbell and does not get arrested for being magical.
  • Sleeping Beauty's Maleficent appears humanoid, but is implied to actually be a fairy just like Flora, Fauna and Merryweather. Her film makes this explicit, and explains why she lacks wings like other fairies.
  • The dwarfs in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It's uncertain whether they are the fey race or simply elderly, short humans. It bears mentioning that the dwarfs have only four fingers on each hand, while Snow White and other unambiguously human characters are drawn with realistic five-fingered hands.
  • Zigzag from The Thief and the Cobbler. He has blue skin and six-fingered hands, and apparently doesn't need to sleep to sustain his life (the whole point of a deleted scene being that he finds humans foolish to "sleep their lives away" while he "is quite awake"). On top of that, he has very long, coiled feet that spring outward as he walks.
  • Treasure Planet:
    • Silver is human enough at first glance, but he also has a number of weird features — an odd shift between skintones where his stubble should be, small, crumpled-looking ears, a very misshapen nose, and fingernails that seem to be more like tiny black claws. Word of God states that he's really a bear-human alien mix with cyborg parts.
    • As most other characters are aliens, and animal-looking aliens exist, it's possible that Jim and his parents are Human Aliens. According to the art book, however, they're most likely humans.
  • Harlequin from Welcome Back Pinocchio is a human-like creature with green skin and red-orange eyes, which is implied to be a zombie but never stated.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 10,000 BC: The Almighty and the Old Mother are implied to not be homo sapiens like the rest of the cast. The former is worshiped as a god by his followers and is thought to be a Human Alien or an Atlantean, though either way he can be killed like any man. The latter is said to be the last of her kind, and is thought to be a Neanderthal who has such mystical powers as the power to revive the dead at the expense of her own life.
  • Batman Film Series:
    • The Joker in Batman (1989). While his pre-clown persona, Jack Napier, is unquestionably human, you have to wonder about exactly what happened to Napier after he fell into that acid; after all, No One Could Survive That!. It's undeniably creepy when the Joker tells his first victim: "I've been dead once already; it's very liberating." During his face-off with the Batwing during the parade, he seems almost unafraid of death; does he believe he's become immortal? And just how are we supposed to interpret the Joker's signature line "Did you ever dance with the devil by the pale moonlight?" (He was already saying that as Napier, but on the other hand, it could have been foreshadowing.)
    • In Batman Returns, there's Selina Kyle, who's Ambiguously Alive. It's never made clear whether she survived being pushed out that high window (she only awakens after the alley cats lick and bite her, and up to that point she appeared pretty dead), and given Catwoman's borderline superhuman and/or supernatural powers (though many have noted there are logical in-universe explanations for those) it's possible that Catwoman/Selina is no longer human, but some kind of avenging angel/zombie/feline hybrid.
    • Almost all of the members of the Penguin's Red Triangle Gang, though grotesquely costumed, are obviously human in appearance, and the Penguin himself is shown to be the deformed offspring of human parents (though in his madness, he thinks he's nonhuman)... but then there are those "skeleton-bikers" who tear around Gotham Plaza when the gang launches its first attack. They're about the same size as the human characters, and obviously a villain with the power to raise the undead would have far grander plans in mind than the Penguin does in this movie, but... those skulls. They look real, and they're much too large to be ordinary masks. You have to look very closely to make out the actors' bare skin underneath, making it clear that what we're seeing is just a really high-tech Hollywood makeup job — although whether that's the case in-universe is doubtful, especially since the gang is living in near-poverty in the Gotham City sewers.
  • Deckard from Blade Runner may or may not be a Replicant; it's still hotly debated today.
  • A pretty common interpretation of the Man With No Name character in the Dollars Trilogy is that he isn't a human being. He appears to show only Inhuman Emotion, has near-supernatural abilities with guns, has Blue-and-Orange Morality to the extent of Designated Hero at points, and is virtually identical in appearance during both the 1860s (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) and 1890s (For a Few Dollars More). A more mundane interpretation is that the three films don't take place in the same 'universe' and that the Man is a different character each time, though the way that The Good, The Bad and The Ugly goes out of its way to show his origin story makes this a Continuity Snarl.
  • Halloween (or at least the installments without anything overtly supernatural) has Michael Myers. Maybe he's some kind of indestructible boogeyman, or maybe he's just a very tough and persistent Serial Killer.
  • The Stranger from High Plains Drifter. He might be an avenging angel, a demon, or the ghost of the dead marshal. Or he might just be a clever and lucky drifter with a particular moral code.
  • Hobo with a Shotgun: Just what are Rip and Grinder exactly? We never get an answer.
  • Holocaust 2000: Angel Caine is The Antichrist, though he was spawned by two (apparently) human parents. It's not clear exactly what he is, as some of the things he orchestrates appear to be outright supernatural.
  • The Invitation (2022): Mr. Field, Mrs. Swift and the Harkers turn out to have served Deville at least for a century. None are identified as vampires like him, and don't show the traits. However, at the very least they're somehow immortal too, as they appear unchanged in old photos taken in the 1920s.
  • Jareth in Labyrinth is the Goblin King, but it's never stated outright if that means that he's a goblin who is a king or that he's a king who rules over goblins. He definitely looks entirely human, while all his subjects are small, stunted and, well, goblin-like.
  • Mandy (2018) has the Black Skulls biker gang with the scales tipping heavily towards "no". While supposedly just victims of severe drug-induced psychosis, their voices are demonic, they can be summoned and bargained with using a demonic instrument, and some of them seem to be made at least partially out of metal. One of them even brushes off a crossbow bolt through his throat.
  • In Mary Poppins, the titular character apparently either is human or was at some point. But she lives on a cloud in the sky, suggesting she might be either an angel, a goddess, or a resurrected human who returns to Earth occasionally. She also possesses reality-warping powers — and, significantly, she is explicitly mentioned to not be a witch, meaning that she could not have studied magic as a mortal.
  • Nanny McPhee: The title nanny appears as a human but she uses magic and doesn't seem to get any older (even though the baby in the first film and the old woman in the sequel are implied to be the same character). Simon Brown speculates that she could be a witch, but she's never confirmed or denied to be one.
  • No Country for Old Men: Anton Chigurh outwardly appears human, yet he shrugs off injuries which should be crippling, acts according to a Blue-and-Orange Morality which seems totally divorced from the thought processes of ordinary people, and other characters in-universe start speculating towards the end that he's some sort of supernatural being. Many viewers interpret him as the Anthropomorphic Personification of fate and/or death.
  • In The Northman, both the He-Witch and Seeress seem to be supernatural figures to one capacity or not. Their exact nature is left unclear but could be operating at the authority of a higher power. The Seeress might be the ghost of the temple priestess or a Norn while the He-Witch could very well have been Odin if not for him having both of his eyes.
  • The Pumaman: Vadhino initially appears to be an ordinary Native American man who just happens to be privy to some obscure mystic and cosmic knowledge. But he does things that no normal human should be able to do, like tear cars apart with his bare hands and heal himself through rituals, and he ends the movie by leaving in an alien spacecraft. Tony directly asks him if he's one of "them", to which Vadhino replies, "We all are, a bit".
  • Satan's Little Helper: Even by movie serial killer standards, "Satan Man" is off. Not only does he not talk even when it's clear he can, but at one point he shoots himself in the hand. Not even a grunt or a physical reaction.
  • The Shape of Water: Elisa was found as a baby near a river, unable to speak presumably due to the gill-like scars on her neck. At the end of the movie, the scars wind up actually functioning as gills. Although this seems to be the result of the Amphibian man's healing touch turning her scars into gills, Guillermo del Toro confirmed in an interview that Elisa is not entirely human, and described her and the Amphibian Man as the last of a species.
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home: At first glance, two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who appear in the film (Dmitri Smerdyakov and the blonde woman who gives Peter his stealth suit) seem to be run-of-the-mill government spooks. However, The Stinger reveals that "Nick Fury" and "Maria Hill" were actually the Skrulls Talos and Soren for the whole film, raising the question of whether they were humans under the impression that they were working for Nick Fury, or Skrulls working for Talos.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Imperial stormtroopers can come off as this to inexperienced viewers. They look like robots, but their voices are clearly those of humans (albeit rendered tinny by the plastisteel helmets they wear). Luke and Han dress up as stormtroopers, but young viewers still might not make the connection.
      • In Legends, in the Kevin J. Anderson short story "Therefore I Am", the assassin droid IG-88 takes advantage of this ambiguity when he has his electronic brain uploaded into the Death Star's computer core by robot minions disguised as stormtroopers. And in Dark Forces, it's revealed that one faction of the stormtroopers — dubbed "Dark Troopers" — are robots (except for their leader, who's a human Imperial general encased in a gigantic cyborg suit).
    • Darth Sidious (a.k.a. Emperor Palpatine) looks almost reptilian throughout the original trilogy, which seems strange since he's heading a government made up almost entirely of humans. Not until Revenge of the Sith are we shown that he once was perfectly human-looking, and that his flaky skin is the result of being struck with his own Force Lightning after it is deflected by Mace Windu's lightsaber.
    • Darth Vader was this in A New Hope for the audience, and, In-Universe, is this for the rest of the franchise too. The Empire Strikes Back confirms to the audience that he's human, but due to his armour and the fact that most characters are unaware of his past identity as Anakin Skywalker, there's much in-universe speculation as to whether he's human, an alien, or a droid.
    • Darth Maul, Sidious' apprentice in The Phantom Menace, has horns growing out of his head but often covers them with a black hood, so he can easily be mistaken for a bizarrely face-painted human. On the other hand, he has orange eyes (though this could be rationalized as a sign of his Dark Side powers) and speaks very infrequently for someone who's supposedly human. Turns out he's a Zabrak, a species similar to humans, but with a few biological differences.
    • The Tusken Raiders (or Sand People) are human-sized, and out-of-universe are played by human actors... but their bodies, feet, hands, mouths, noses, ears, and their eyes are always kept covered, they are Always Chaotic Evil and pissed off all the time, and their language sounds more like barbaric screaming than anything truly verbal. In Legends, it was eventually revealed that the Tuskens are a humanoid alien race (called either "Ghorfa" or "Kumumgah" in their own tongue) with slightly feline facial features, although occasionally there are some Human Tuskens who've been adopted into a tribe.
    • Boba Fett is seemingly made of metal (actually his Mandalorian mask and armor, which he almost never takes off, even to eat or drink) and speaks in a hollow, machine-like voice — but his speech patterns (when he actually does speak, that is) are obviously those of a human. ("What if he doesn't survive? He's worth a lot to me.") Not until Attack of the Clones do we see Boba's human face — and he's just a child, and not wearing the armor yet, so little kids still might not catch on. Frighteningly, Fett had even more of a reason to keep completely covered up after his escape from the Great Pit of Carkoon, where the digestive acids in the Sarlacc's stomach burned and corroded his skin so badly that he came out looking slightly reptilian. Despite this, there is at least one account of the post-Sarlacc Fett being seen nearly naked.
      • In-regards to Mandalorians as a whole, they are seen more as a culture rather than a species: with most humanoid species being unrecognizable beneath the Mandalorian armor and helmets.
      • The Children Of The Watch from The Mandalorian takes this Up to Eleven with their strict rules for 24-Hour Armor that aside from main character Din Djarin and Paz Vizsla: it is entirely unknown if there are any other Humans in the Clan.note 
    • General Grievous (a sort of precursor to Darth Vader) is an example of Ambiguously Alien. He gets mistaken for a droid both in- and out-of-universe — which is understandable, because very little of his original Kaleesh biology remains.
    • Many, often minor, characters constantly keep you guessing about what they really are: the Mad Scientist Dr. Evazan (completely human, but looks almost like a pig due to scarring from being shot in the facenote ), the big-game hunter Sergeant Doallyn (who's actually a Geran, an indigo-skinned humanoid alien, but always keeps his face covered by a thick, dark breath mask both because he cannot breathe "standard" oxygen and because he was mauled across the face by a poison-clawed panther), and the exotic dancer Yarna d'al'Gargan (an Askajian, so has six breasts and a pot belly that stores water on desert worlds like the hump of a camel, but looks almost human when she slims down in moister climates).
    • Both the films and the Expanded Universe feature many "Near-Humans" — Human Subspecies who have genetically diverged so far from the original Coruscanti stock that they are thought of as aliens (or sometimes not; how human or alien they are considered to be often depends on how committed a government or society is to Human High Culture and/or civil rights). Thus, there are "humans" who are albinos, hobbit-like folk, people with gigantism, etc. Strangest of all are the Zelosians from Legends, who look completely human (their emerald-green eyes are the only thing remotely exotic about their appearance), but whose behavior is quite strange: they are extremely afraid of the dark, and will stop whatever they're doing and head home once the sun starts to set. This is because the Zelosians are actually humanoid plants, and their blood contains a chlorophyll sap that nourishes them by photosynthesizing sunlight. Scientists believe that the Zelosians are a genetically-engineered species, since the odds of plant life naturally developing human-like physiques and intelligence are practically nil.
    • Also from Legends: Most ambiguously human of all was Danetta Pitta, an Imperial Grand Admiral of half-Borneck ancestry. Borneck, one of the near-human subspecies described above, are human except for their mustard-yellow or bright-orange skin; Pitta's only trace of his partial ancestry was an unusually pale yellowish complexion. Despite this, he was extremely ashamed of his heritage, and ruthlessly persecuted anyone who looked more alien than he did.
    • Snoke, the leader of the First Order in The Force Awakens, at first appears to be a gigantic humanoid alien. However, we only see a hologram of him, so that might not be his real size*. The way his facial features diverge from humans could plausibly be from scarification, much like Sidious. The EU usually portrayed the Empire as being prejudiced against aliens, but it's unknown if this applies to the First Order or is even canon to the new trilogy at all. The Last Jedi shows Snoke really is close to human size, but his origins remain unspecified even after his death. The Rise of Skywalker suggests he was a clone puppet created by the revived Emperor Palpatine.
    • Rogue One has Blind Weaponmaster Chirrut Îmwe. He looks to be human, has an unshakable faith in the Force (despite not wielding it like a Jedi or Sith), and his eyes are clouded over. Despite being apparently blind, he gets around fine, and makes some shots that would be difficult for even a sighted person to make. This has led to speculation that he's not human, but a Miraluka, a near-human, Force Sensitive species seen mostly in the comic books and games that "sees" using the Force and only has vestigial eye sockets. While some Miraluka became powerful Jedi and/or Sith, others have no Force abilities speak of beyond being able to "see" with it.
    • From the same film, we have the Death Troopers, which are really damned tall (towering over regular stormtroopers), frighteningly efficient, and speak in creepy distorted voices that don't sound even remotely human. To muddy the waters even further, supplementary material confirms they're 1) partially cybernetic, although to what extent is unknown, and 2) named after an Imperial weapons project that apparently created zombies.
    • In keeping with the A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away... setting, we assume that none of the "humans" have any connection to Earth.
  • Killer Croc in Suicide Squad (2016) is described as a human suffering from a skin condition that just so happens to make him look reptilian. However, a close look at his eyes reveals what appears to be nicitating membranesnote , he can breathe underwater (or at least hold his breath for a really long time), and he is strong enough to throw around members of Enchantress' army with ease, all of which hints that he may in fact be a metahuman.
  • After seeing Gorgo in Up Pompeii, Lurcio doesn't believe that a man that big and menacing could be human:
    Lurcio: Is he human?
    Captain Bilius: Almost. That's Gorgo the Invincible.
  • Us: It's never revealed exactly what the Tethered are, where they came from (other than a vague Hand Wave about a government conspiracy), or how they've kept going all this time on their own. They're flesh and blood, they can die like any other human, but their pain tolerance is insanely high, they show virtually no emotional responses other than occasional aggression, and lash out violently at the slightest provocation.
  • Wolves: Three or four trashy women are seen hanging around the werewolf pack members at various points, but never transform or accompany the male werewolves in battle.
  • Addison Wells from Z-O-M-B-I-E-S (2018) has multiple implications of this. She was born with Mystical White Hair which cannot be dyed. In The Stinger for the sequel, her hair flashes blue like the meteor outside her window. In the Addison's Moonstone Mystery short series, she was the only character who was unaffected by Vanna's vampire hypnosis. It's eventually revealed she's 1/8 alien, descended from her grandmother.

  • The video for Phats & Small's 2001 single "Feel Good" features this individual who's a hunter in the Alps that chases the main characters with a gun. He looks human, but it's never stated outright if he is human or not. But his green-colored skin makes it questionable if he's fully human or not, or if he's some other humanoid species.
  • Eminem's Slim Shady character is usually just a mentally disturbed human who's been screwed up by a life of bullying and poverty, but is introduced in Slim Shady EP as a demonic Enemy Without, appears as an evil spirit in "My Darling", repeatedly brings himself back from the dead after dying, sometimes claims he's an alien, and is also portrayed as a horror-movie mummy in the artwork on The Slim Shady LP and earlier projects with D12. He also is a bad angel in "Guilty Conscience" and is a 'ghost trapped in a beat' in "Bad Meets Evil". It's difficult to tell if he's a metaphor for a man who acts like a monster, or if he might be an actual monster.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Jesus of Nazareth. All Christians (except for Arians) take it for granted that he was both fully human and fully divine (sounds like Too Many Halves, but in Christian theology it actually makes sense), while Jews, Muslims, and all others believe he was fully human, period.
  • Santa Claus. He's based off a real person (St. Nicholas) but is able to watch all the children who celebrate Christmas on Earth, and he's lived an awful long time. And of course, one of his earliest and most enduring depictions refers to him as "a right jolly old elf." This is further muddled by the depictions where "Santa Claus" is more of a title or position than a singular person. And unsurprisingly, this trope also applies to his wife.

    Oral Tradition 
  • The Grinning Man, a figure frequently combined with Indrid Cold and associated with Mothman lore, is an apparently human man with a constant Slasher Smile and a tendency to mysteriously appear in connection with unexplained events. Whether he's an alien, a member of The Men in Black, or something else entirely is unclear.

  • Ain't Slayed Nobody:
    • Ida, an enigmatic merchant who the Posse encounters in Las Cruces and again in Olvido is revealed to be more familiar with the ins and outs of the Cthulhu Mythos than she lets on; and is implied to be somehow connected to Shub-Niggurath, with Johnny seeing her with fangs and scary eyes while conducting a ritual... though he could have just been hallucinating.
    • Bertie — a baby the Posse find Buried Alive in the ruins of a barn outside Olvido — is strongly implied to be something other than human. Despite the baby's uncanny nature, Ellie and Johnny are more than happy to adopt her and frequently bicker over which of them should get custody.
  • From Alice Isn't Dead:
    • We have The Thistle Man, a being who is described as being a human male, but there's just enough in his mannerisms and appearance to suggest that he isn't. The fact that he can pacify people with a touch and has seemingly no qualms whatsoever with eating people alive adds further fuel to the fire.
    • The Oracles are implied to be at least human-shaped from the fact that they wear typical hooded sweatshirts, pants, and shoes, and have eyes in roughly the region of the face where they should be. They speak in raspy voices, and don't experience time the way the rest of us do. Their nature aside from their clothing is anybody's guess.
  • The Magnus Archives:
    • Sasha, on meeting "Michael", immediately perceives the latter as non-human even though "it" looks human. This impression is reinforced so when they shake hands — its hand is described as heavy, like a wet leather bag full of heavy, sharp stones.
    • The narrator describes the strange hunter in "First Hunt" as looking human except that "everything about him was sharper" and he has a smile with "far too many teeth to it".
    • "Crusader" hints that this is the ultimate fate of the head archivist of Magnus Institute. If they survive long enough in the position.
  • Between her cloudcuckoolander tendencies, the fact that she turns into a blur when photographed, and her Dark and Troubled Past that's played for laughs, Sid from Sequinox might be different from the other girls. Jake asks her player Cassidy if she's an alien, and Cassidy jokingly declares that Sid's origin story would take up a whole other podcast.
  • From Welcome To Nightvale, many of the titular town's citizens fall under this trope, including the narrator Cecil. What little we know of his appearance suggests that he looks human, but he has the uncanny ability to report on events happening across town in real time, often knows things he shouldn't be able to, and has casually mentioned his "seven senses". Also, he is apparently several centuries old, and may have lived through multiple timelines or universes.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppets:
    • Any roughly humanoid Muppet like Scooter or Dr. Teeth falls into this category. While Kermit, Fozzie, or Piggy may experience special or unfair treatment due to being animals, there's never any indication that "human" Muppets are not simply short, goofy humans. The 2011 film played with this the most: Walter and Gary are brothers, despite the former being a Muppet and the latter a normal human; it's finally lampshaded with the song "Man Or Muppet?"
    • While the Muppets are often abstract critters, some represent animals, monsters, and humans, with Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street being the third. However, the characters Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker are an odd case. Bunsen has no visible eyes (though he wears glasses), and Beaker is beaker-shaped.

  • In The Goon Show, Eccles is this whenever it's necessary for a gag.
    Seagoon: Good Heavens, ghosts!
    Eccles: We ain't ghosts.
    Seagoon: But you can't be human.
    Eccles: Well, dat's different.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering, for a while, printed labels on the nonhuman races like Goblin and Elf but didn't print Human in their typeline. For the most part this just led to unlabeled humans, but certain old cards had art that was more fantastical than one may think of as "human". One strong example is Arcanis the Omnipotent, one of the few of these ambiguous cards 'not' to get the Human type added on later.
  • The Space Marines from Warhammer 40,000 are all technically still human since their augmentations don't change their actual genetic code. It's easy to forget that, since a man is made into a Space Marine by having a bunch of extra organs grown from the genetic material of superhuman demigods (the Primarchs) implanted into his body. The end result is a 'human' who is over eight feet tall, can shrug off most small-arms fire, eat brains to absorb knowledge, spit acid, strong enough to wield literal hand cannons, can neurally interface with Powered Armor through their skin...and those are just the baseline Space Marine abilities. Many of the Space Marine Chapters' gene-seeds have mutated, the results include werewolf Marines, vampire Marines, Marines with jet-black skin and glowing red eyes, Marines cursed with the worst possible luck, etc. There's less ambiguity where the Chaos Space Marines are concerned: most of them are so heavily mutated they are more Warp monstrosity than human. Especially the Thousand Sons' Rubric Marines, who are nothing but magic dust animating their Powered Armor.

  • La Nona: The titular character is this. The eldest in a somewhat impoverished family, "La Nona" (jargon for "granny") is a Big Eater of superhuman quantities and is likewise Obsessed with Food. She's also extremely old yet perfectly healthy despite all of that. Throughout the play, la Nona foils her grandson Chicho's increasingly desperate attempts to get rid of her and slowly causes every member of her family to die (or move away in Maria's case). Meanwhile, La Nona herself is none for the worse, and could very well be immortal. It is implied La Nona is actually misery in human form, representing the hard times Argentinian families experienced during the 70s, with misery spreading through everyone, just like la Nona is given shelter by a blissfully unaware family at the end of the play.
  • In Macbeth, Banquo and Macbeth aren't sure at first whether the witches are human or supernatural beings. Renaissance beliefs about witchcraft generally involved ordinary humans gaining magical powers by making a Deal with the Devil, but Banquo remarks when he sees the witches that they "look not like the inhabitants o' the earth / And yet are on't."
  • Caliban in The Tempest is referred to repeatedly as a monster by Trinculo, and Prospero describes him as earth, mud, etc., but what he is is not made clear, and it is possible that this is used to show contempt. He is described as humanoid at least, and he never demonstrates any kind of supernatural abilities (although his mother, who died before the start of the play, is described as a powerful witch).


    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa:
    • Izuru Kamukura in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair started off as a normal student, but underwent a secret brain augmentation surgery meant to give him every single talent possible, making him a perfect genius and the ultimate hope for mankind. However, the procedure also suppressed any senses, emotions, thoughts, hobbies, and memories he had that could interfere with acquiring talent. His old identity and anything that made him human gone, he grew bored with life, fell into despair, and had a major hand in causing The Worst, Most Despair-Inducing Event In Human History. His previous identity is later revealed to be Hajime Hinata.
    • Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls piles on even more ambiguity about him with a scene when he rips through solid metal with his bare hands.
    • Then the anime adds more by showing that his light backhands can throw people into walls, and that he's so fast that he simply appears to teleport around the screen. He's also never shown eating or sleeping.
  • Hanyuu in Higurashi: When They Cry overall looks human but has horns on her head. She also spends most of the series as a Cute Ghost Girl, can switch between looking like a child and looking like an adult, and is a god. It's implied she is a human who turned into a god after being sacrificed by her daughter and that her horns are due to a genetic disorder.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies: Implied with the imposter Detective Fulbright a.k.a the phantom. He comes across as unsettlingly inhuman. He feels very few emotions though he fakes them well, is able to perform almost superhuman physical feats, and hides his identity under countless perfect masks. The "implied" part comes from Phoenix wondering if he's human anymore.
  • The Princess of Slay the Princess is not all she appears to be, for better or for worse. For such a slender young woman, she certainly takes a lot of punishment if you're trying to slay her. And she's a lot stronger than a woman who has been locked in an isolated cabin for who knows how long should be. This includes the fact that in several routes, she can lose one of her hands, and she's still a massive physical threat capable of rupturing your organs with just a few hits. In other routes, she is very clearly an Eldritch Abomination, with the basement itself as some kind of Eldritch Location.

    Web Animation 
  • AstroLOLogy: Aries, Leo, Cancer, and Sagittarius all look human, but have less human-looking skin colors and retain some visual elements of their namesake creatures. With Sagittarius, it was less ambiguous in the older shorts, where she was more clearly a faun.
  • Chikn Nuggit introduces a Funny Animals version. While it's not as obvious as with Iscream, the couple of episodes that feature Cheezborger's hat being removed or messed with have some... odd implications regarding what kind of being she is.
  • In one episode of DEATH BATTLE!, it's suggested that Boomstick might've had an undead pirate as a father, but whether this was his biological father or one of his many stepfathers is unknown. Even if the former is true, what that would make him is uncertain. A later episode only muddies the waters further by hinting that he might be the son of Sarge from Red vs. Blue. Another later episode shows that he can use the Ghostly Wail on his friend Wiz, despite not being a ghost or halfa (as far as we know), which further complicates it.
  • Dr. Bob, host of an SCP Foundation-based series, appears to be a completely ordinary researcher at first glance. However, he seems to have no fear whatsoever of anomalous objects or entities, with most episodes ending in him dealing them in an utterly unsafe manner (for instance, petting a violent man-eating monster like a dog, or sitting down to watch a known cogitohazard) while politely asking viewers to subscribe. He's never been harmed, and several anomalous entities are shown being afraid of him. Additionally, his face is in shadow in all appearances.
  • Tom from Eddsworld. He was born to a pineapple father and a bowling ball mother, has empty sockets where his eyes should be and yet is able to see just fine and his hair has bones in it, can bleed and is at one point implied to have a mind of its own. Made even more confusing in the episode "Saloonatics", wherein Tom's revealed to have an ancestor (or possibly an ancestor) from the old west who looked just like him except with a normal eye and an eyepatch covering the other. Said ancestor, Sheriff Thompson, appears to be entirely human.
  • Many characters in the Homestar Runner cartoon seem vaguely human, but not exactly. Strong Bad is an interesting case, where it's implied that his wrestling mask and boxing gloves are actually his face and hands.
  • Qem-95: Qem is kinda invincible after surviving a burn that humans CAN'T survive. But how on earth can he really be human if he's a corpse of a dead man infused with magic from a golden anvil? Plus, he also has the infusion right where he likes to put tattoos.
  • RWBY:
    • Faunus resemble humans (except for animal attributes) and can breed with humans so it's possible that they're a Human Subspecies. The characters use the term "species" when referring to Faunus and humans, which suggests that they're different species who simply look alike, but they also use "humanity" to collectively refer to both humans and Faunus.
    • Salem is an individual example. She looks humanoid, talks like a regular woman and acts human enough. She even identifies herself as "we" when referring to mankind in the first episode's introduction. However, she has unnatural white skin, purple veins over her face and arms, black sclera and glowing red eyes with vertical pupils. Her color scheme matches that of the Monsters of Grimm and she has the ability to talk to them and control them. She's also been around for thousands of years. One of the few characters who are aware of her in-universe admits they aren't sure what she is. "The Lost Fable" finally reveals that she was originally, human. The god of light granted her immortality as a punishment by dropping her into his Fountain of Life, so she eventually tried to commit suicide by diving into his brother, the god of darkness's, Pool of Oblivion, the same thing that the Grimm were spawned from. Not only did it fail to take away her immortality, it turned into...that and granted her a degree of power over the Grimm at the cost of becoming an Omnicidal Maniac.
  • The titular character of Salad Fingers by David Firth has green skin, a long skinny body, skinny limbs, and three fingers on each hand. You'd probably assume him to be a zombie at first glance, and he does have a shambling walk, but he's at the very least sapient. Apparently, he at least isn't a zombie. Though with the varying levels of intelligence of zombies in media, it's hard to say.

  • Black Mage from 8-Bit Theater is established early on to look very much not human, but it's never made clear whether he started that way or was twisted by all the evil magics he collects.
  • Dr. Man in Awful Hospital is immediately recognized as human by the protagonist, thankfully for a hospital where all the other inhabitants are sapient body parts, giant microorganisms, and living laboratory equipment. But he doesn't quite act like a human, particularly his Dissonant Serenity and "cheerfully emotionless" voice that changes only in volume when he gets mad. His diary references senses that humans don't (normally) have, and reveals even he isn't sure if he's a real human from Virginia or a thing that only thinks he's a real human from Virginia. That his full name is "Ichabod Malachi Man" (I. M. Man) just makes him more suspect.
  • The Nations from Hetalia: Axis Powers all appear human, but live for ridiculously long amounts of time (China is 4,000 years old and, by Word of God, immortal) and their physical age is tied to the military strength of the country they represent. Their "birth" consists of them randomly showing up in an area as a very small child, and most if not all of their family relations are Not Blood Siblings. Also, their physical wellbeing is directly affected by the status of their country (Spain is made ill by The Mafia in his country, Lichtenstein nearly starves to death when her country is in a depression, and Hungary is "freakishly strong" around the time when her country helped with the War of Austrian Succession).
  • Nate Jones from The Back o' Beyond; he has a liking for eating raw, not exactly fresh fish au naturel (which he recalls his father did, too, along with some other odd things about him) and possesses a Healing Factor.
  • Blue Moon Blossom: Are the two knights on the first page humanoid monsters like the rest of the citizenry, or are they more like the gray-beige humanoids seen at the bottom of the first page? The knights never remove their helmets (never mind that the first one has only appeared in the first panel as a Decoy Protagonist), and the art style is simple enough that it's hard to tell what's skin pigmentation and what's gloves or shoes.
  • El Goonish Shive: Noah's aura is apparently similar to Grace's, and the person commenting this also refers to his pigtails as "prehensile tendrils." His hair does look suspiciously similar to the antennae Ellen's half-human friend Archie had in her dreams. There is a lot of evidence that he might be a seyunolu beyond just his hair (which has been shown to be able to move of its own accord). Examples include that he values his relationship with Melissa for "physical warmth and comfort", another common trend in seyunolus, and his apparent lack of social exposure. It is also known that his parents were working at the lab that created Damian.
    Noah: Have you ever heard of a television show called The Simpsons?
    Elliot: I am aware of it.
  • Flaky Pastry: Marelle looks completely human except that she has cat-like ears poking out of her hair. She denies being a catgirl, though, and gets quite irritated when people call her that.
  • Mrs. Fork from The Forks With Spiky Hands looks far more human than her husband, but she also looks very different from the definite humans in the comic, eats and cooks nothing but cupcakes, has a torture dungeon, and frequently acts rather strange. The ambiguity about what she is only gets played up further in the web series, in which her pregnancy cravings include grilled scorpion and roses.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court:
    • Jones looks human but can take a sword to the face with no injury, has superhuman reflexes, strength, and speed, and sinks like a rock in water. Chapter 40 reveals that she was present at the formation of Earth in her current shape and that she is completely opaque to X-rays, but nothing else. Jones herself has no idea what she is.
    • Played with in the chapter "Totem", where the lab technician responsible for growing human bodies for transitioning fairies and animals looks to be this trope (given her yellow eyes with vertical slit pupils and her prominent buck teeth), but she insists she's from Cardiff, not the forest.
  • Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name:
  • Parodied in I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space!!! wherein it is revealed that lesbians are this. A long and complex story is told off-screen to explain how come the protagonist doesn't have the lesbian antennae, nobody tries to explain when it turns out that lesbians exist in all other species also.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons is so chock full of bizarre background characters, sometimes it can be difficult to tell if you're looking at a demon, a humanoid alien, or an exotic human variant from an alternative universe.
  • Throughout all of minus., the eponymous omnipotent character never receives a backstory, resulting in this effect. She does have parents, but they are only voices from off-panel, and it isn't clear whether those parents have supernatural powers as well, or whether they are normal humans despite their daughter's powers. It isn't even clear whether minus is actually the age she appears to be, or whether she is a lot older but deliberately avoided growing up.
  • The Senkari look like humans, but...
  • The main cast of Sinfest is composed of Winged Humanoid angels, horned and tailed devils, humans, a Funny Animal pig, and various deities... and the Bible-thumping Seymour, who is a cartoon "Smiley" face on a humanoid body and whose species is never quite clarified. Even more strangely, when exposed to the Reality Zone, which adds detail to humans, turns Squigly into a normal pig, and destroys fantastic creatures, Seymour remains a cartoon. What is he?!
  • Sister Catherine from Sister Claire seems human enough. But look closer. She's drawn differently than the other human characters. A lither body, angular eyes...on occasion you can actually spot some Cute Little Fangs. All of this is related to the comic's obsession with a certain species of animal...
  • Sette Frummagem from Unsounded is a human with a lion's tail, sharp teeth, an inhumanly acute sense of smell that can even detect magic, and no nipples or navel. She also hasn't aged physically for the last few years, at an age when she really should. Some people — including her — question whether she's really her father's daughter, and her mother is a completely unknown quantity. She can also manipulate the structure of the Khert with her hands, which just plain shouldn't be possible.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • It isn't clear what Captain Disillusion is supposed to be. He at least looks part human but he also looks robotic as well.
  • Several characters in Dream SMP fall under this trope:
    • While Eret mostly seems human, some small things (notably their eyes) imply there might be something else going on beneath the surface. Their February 21st, 2021 stream more or less confirmed that Eret isn't human, or at least not entirely; specifically, they seem to have some connection to Herobrine.
    • Karl was once claimed to be an "interdimensional being" who chooses to look like a human, but the audience is never given further clues on what species he actually is. His true form is implied to be the strange, colourful blob that was his old Minecraft skin.
    • For the most part, Connor just appears to be a human in a Sonic costume, but Sonic being initially joked to be one of his dubiously canon parents made it a bit more ambiguous whether he's just a regular human or part-hedgehog. Fans often depict him as the latter.
    • In Quackity's fourth "Las Nevadas" stream, Purpled reveals in a monologue that the UFO is related to his heritage. This may refer to the popular fanon that he's an extraterrestrial or is descended from one, or something else entirely, since no context is given in the episode. His content creator counterpart prefers to leave it up to audience interpretation, further solidifying the ambiguity.
  • Empires SMP: While Oli certainly looks human, considering his past adventures as various decidedly non-human Origins on the Afterlife SMP, it's unconfirmed whether Humanity Ensues for him after he fell from Heaven and sailed to the Empires world. It doesn't help that he refers to Endermen as his "fellow Enderians" in his 3rd episode, suggesting he doesn't necessarily identify as human himself.
  • Something seems off about Fegelein in Hitler Rants. While he looks and acts human, the fact that he can survive and/or come back from just about anything, combined with how downright bizarre many of his antics are, raises some serious questions...
  • Minecraft Diaries includes the Shadow Knights, deceased warriors reincarnated in the Nether (which is basically Hell). According to Vylad, a Shadow Knight himself, they aren’t really human, but they’re not really not human either-where exactly the line has remained super vague.
  • Post-comeback, there's been a few references to The Nostalgia Critic not being human and more like a zombie.
  • The Unwanted Houseguest has a strange mixture of strengths and vulnerabilities, with hints both that he's a human, and a spirit, but his origins are unclear.
  • White Stag Education: The Strangers are humanoids whose faces are said to be hidden behind animal masks, and the church service alludes to the idea that they may be immortal. If their training video can be trusted, the Grandwood Park Rangers classify the Strangers as "bipedal organisms" with their own species name. It also reveals the Strangers communicate by whistling, with it being likened to animal calls. Overall, they are framed as predatory animals more than as people, but it is mentioned that they do supposedly have souls.


Video Example(s):



Considering his nature and the nature of the Bureau, it's hard to say whether Ahti is an extra-dimensional being or just a bit crazy.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / AmbiguouslyHuman

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