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Can't Argue with Elves

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"Human law and vampyre law are not one and the same. Humans have no jurisdiction over us."
"Why?" I'd asked.
"Because humans and vampyres are not the same. There are, indeed, more of them than us, but we few hold greater wealth and power as individuals than they can ever hope to attain. We are stronger, smarter, more talented, and more beautiful. Without vampyres, their world would be nothing more than a snuffed candle."

This species is better than you — and just about whatever is not them. They are taller, thinner, prettier, more graceful, better-read, more intelligent, more environmentally conscious, more socially progressive, less aggressive or confrontational (while still being fearsome warriors), and better craftspeople, too.

In fact, the only quality this species seem to be lacking is humility. Whenever you have a group that thinks itself as just completely superior to anyone else and ignores all arguments against it, you have this trope.

Even if they are supposed to be humble, they can't resist lecturing humans on their errant ways or pointing out humanity's flaws. If you try to argue or mock them back, they will just sniff disdainfully and proceed to destroy your argument (even if it doesn't make sense), proving them "right" once again.


Not a bad thing if the creator intends for the species in question to be conceited jerks ripe for some much-deserved humbling. However, it's just as common for the species to be treated by the narrative as fully justified despite their frustrating arrogance, particularly if the creator has an axe to grind.

As the trope name suggests, haughtiness is a common trait of elves in particular, and Screw You, Elves! is for humans who do take offense (and make it very clear). In contrast with humans, dwarves are not only allowed but expected to argue with elves.

If the species makes this argument to justify abusing or conquering "lesser" races, they're operating on The Right of a Superior Species.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Outlaw Star, Aisha of the C'tarl C'tarl constantly brags about her species' superiority, and no one calls her out on it (partially because her species is physically superior). Then again, Aisha's the local Butt-Monkey and is obviously immature, so this is most likely a case of "let the baby have the bottle" or acknowledging that she can take the abuse. It helps that Aisha is considered kind of bugnuts, even by C'tarl C'tarl standards, but Aisha tends to be the sign that they let the mask slip by letting her go out in public.
  • This is why the Main Characters of Those Who Hunt Elves have to chase the elves down and forcefully strip them; asking nicely if any of them had any odd runes on their skin never got them anywhere.

    Comic Books 
  • The mutants in Marvel's Ultimate Universe constantly talk about how genetically superior they are, and how it means they have a higher standard of behavior. On one occasion Professor X tells Cyclops that a certain instance of resentment is a human thing, and he is "pleased to say" Cyclops wouldn't understand. The ordinary human they are talking to at the time says not a word.
    • This is especially grating since in the Ultimate Universe practically every character save for Spider-Man Took a Level in Jerkass, including Cyclops, who many if not most readers consider to already be a douche in the regular continuity.
      • Plus, in the proper 616 universe, it's the Brotherhood of Mutants who go on about how mutants are genetically superior and their main point of conflict with the X-Men is that the X-Men don't believe this. (Depending on the Writer, of course, but that's how it normally is.)
    • What makes this especially ironic is that unlike the Main Marvel Universe of 616, the Ultimate Marvel mutants are not the result of evolution, they're actually a byproduct of the world governments attempting to replicate the Super Soldier Serum after WW2, which ended up screwing with the gene pool when the various failed super-soldier projects had kids of their own.
    • As of House and Powers of X in 2019/2020, they are all onboard with this, with only a very few exceptions (Wolverine, Jean, and possibly Scott are among them). This leads to unsettling sights like Exodus preaching about mutant superiority in a cult-like atmosphere with a specific devil figure - 'The Pretender' (Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. Scarlet Witch). Oh, and he's preaching to children. As a whole, the representatives of the new mutant nation of Krakoa make no bones about the fact that they see themselves as the rightful inheritors of the Earth and are merely patiently waiting to become the dominant species (which going by In-Universe projected birth-rates, will happen in the next 20 years or so). In the meantime, they will use their miracle drugs (derived from Krakoan plants) to essentially addict humanity - while they aren't addictive by themselves, medicines that can reverse mental degeneration and extend lifespans by about a decade mean that they'll soon have the world by the short hairs. In fact, they outright state it.
  • Both Marvel and DC's Atlanteans make frequent reference to how they "rule" most of the planet, making them clearly superior. In Kingdom Come, Aquaman even proclaims the rest of the world's needs as below him because Superman has an entire Justice League to handle the surface, while Aquaman is responsible for 70% of the world all by himself. Nobody ever points out that the oceans have a population numbered in the millions at most, are 99% unoccupied, and have maybe a dozen supervillains to worry about.
    • Of course, Aquaman can communicate with every living thing down there, not just the Apparently Human Merfolk, so he counts them among his subjects.
    • It's even worse in Marvel, where the Atlanteans are mostly extinct and have virtually no claim to any other ocean territory besides the Atlantic. Of course, very few people actually like Namor, and with the exceptions of Namora and Namorita, his subjects tend to be even less popular.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW):
    • One example is King Aspen and the deer. While it's not to say the deer weren't definitely being victimized by the genuinely evil Well-To-Do and his construction company demolishing their forest, the deer retaliate by invading (read: destroying) towns full of ponies for their land. Even after realizing the ponies were innocent, the deer continued even though it hampered the ponies from aiding them until they got what they wanted. While they did repair the damage they caused, they're never once called on their actions, and in the end, Princess Celestia apologizes to them.
    • Downplayed, with Cassie the Kelpie in issue #23, who brainwashed the entire town of Ponyville and had them try to tear down a dam that some friends of hers were stuck behind, uncaring if this flooded all of Ponyville in the process. Although she is Easily Forgiven, Rainbow Dash at least publicly call her out over the fact that this whole mess could have been avoided if she'd simply asked Twilight for help first.
  • In Marvels, Phil Sheldon eventually takes the position that the reason the baseline human population of the Marvelverse resents and protests against the superheroes protecting them is that they're jealous of their inherent nobility and self-sacrifice, rather than the comparatively understandable fear of having what amounts to physical gods brawling in the street. This position is even more odd considering that the series specifically shows Namor the Sub-Mariner's mercurial attitude towards humans and how that influenced public distrust of superheroes — and that a battle between Namor and the Human Torch was what led to the loss of Phil's eye in the first place. Anti-mutant prejudice is also portrayed as an irrational fear of being "replaced" by a posthuman race, despite the existence of criminal mutants providing a much clearer reason for anti-mutant sentiment.
  • Similarly, The Inhumans are often written as culturally posturing. As an isolationist civilization with similar powers to mutants, uplifted by advanced alien technology centuries before others, they're short on patience with humanity. Even as Main Characters of their titles and allies in others, they're abrasively standoffish. This at least appears cultural, as Inhumans inherited this attitude from the imperialistic and xenophobic Kree and Inhumans raised outside of their culture don't act nearly as superior.
  • The Echidna race in the pre-reboot continuity of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics). They were isolationist even before the Floating Island came to be and are established as being the first animal race to evolve intelligence, making them the most advanced race on the planet. Under Ken Penders in particular, they always acted superior to everyone else and were never really called out on it, especially the Brotherhood of Guardians, who felt that anything that didn't directly concern the Floating Island wasn't their problem, even Robotnik taking over the rest of Mobius. It isn't until Ian Flynn replaced him as head writer that they finally do get called out for this, with Knuckles taking his father Locke to task over it when he tries to call his son back to the Island while Knothole Kingdom is in the middle of a crisis and Knuckles wants to stay and help his friends.
  • In Elfes et Nains, the White Elves are presented as better in every way to humans, having a peaceful civilization yet accomplished soldiers, being wiser as they do not exploit the world of Arran only for their own profit and do not kill each other for petty material gains. The third volumes notably portrays Fall, a White Elf, trusting a human and bringing him to the Isles of the White Elves as a tragic mistake leading to a massacre of the Elves.

    Fan Works 
  • Deconstructed in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic "Human" fic, What Separates. Twilight initially takes the "elf" role after the arrival of a human soldier from 20 Minutes into the Future, but over time realizes that 1) some of the stated flaws of humanity are based on unfair assumptions or generalizations; and 2) the Ponies can live a more idyllic lifestyle because they have magic and, with that, a much greater degree of control over their environment.
  • My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic: The Unicornicopians are portrayed as always right, whether it's imposing martial law, stating that they're superior to Equestrians, killing opponents, brainwashing dissidents, etc.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic The Girl Who Lived, the protagonist, Rose Potter, becomes a druid, who are basically to wizards what wizards are to Muggles. She does a lot of condescending to the wizarding world for not being as enlightened as the druids.
  • In the Star Wars/Mass Effect crossover Fractured, the Star Wars far-future faction (Trans-Galactic Republic) ends up acting like this simply because they can, though it's not out of malice and more of "If you want us to solve your Reaper problem then here's what you should do..." Thinking they "know better" actually ends up backfiring and dis-unifying the races of Mass Effect's galaxy, so a totalitarian government forms and that never goes wrong. In the sequel, Origins, both the Trans-Galactic Republic and Asari try to use this trope. Fittingly, their respective representatives call each other out on it.
  • A Halo/Star Wars crossover that can be found here has the Allied Species (a faction made of Humans and the Covenant races, minus the Prophets). They have no problem with burning entire planets, the humans in their military are basically an army of super-soldiers, and the weaker Covenant races have inexplicably become more badass. They also seem to have an endless supply of soldiers and warships, which doesn't make sense given that in the backstory there were two Covenant Civil Wars in the last forty years. This faction should be much weaker than it is. That aside, the Allied Species spend much of the story criticizing the Jedi and the Republic(with whom they happen to be in an alliance) in general, while their own flaws are never mentioned. The Allied Species are always right and the Jedi are always wrong.
  • Downplayed in Exitium Eternal. The Exalted Exitium are noticeably condescending, if unintentionally so, towards the Citadel races when it comes to magic or any other matters in which they are experts. Saren chafes at being treated like a teenager who barely understands combat when he's one of the best Spectres in the galaxy. On the other hand, the Exalted Exitium has no problem deferring to others who have more experience in other matters. Most notably, they have been at war for longer than their government has existed and have zero experience with diplomacy or peacetime politics.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Na'vi of Avatar. The in-story justification is that their planet's ecosystem automatically regulates itself, meaning they don't think they have any need for things like modern technology, roads, clothing, and human education. It turns out the planet's ecosystem is actually sentient.
  • The Hobbit trilogy:
    • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has Thranduil and the Wood-Elves. They're downright hostile, taking the Dwarves as prisoner indefinitely and confiscating all their belongings just for trespassing in Mirkwood. Thorin does get to literally argue with them, though; the Elves treat Goblins/Orcs even more summarily.
    • Then in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Thranduil first tries to force the Dwarves to fork over some treasures he wants. Then after the Orcs attack, he decides to pull out after some fighting, which would mean abandoning the Humans and Dwarves to be slaughtered. And when called on it, his answer boils down to, "And?"
    • Through all of this, however, Thranduil is not necessarily depicted as right. He's right sometimes, but then so is Thorin, and Bard, and Bilbo, and Gandalf, and plenty of other non-elves. His Jerkass tendencies eventually lead to his son Legolas, the last person he cared about, leaving him.
  • Lady in the Water: The prologue establishes that Humans Are Bastards who came to refuse to take counsel from narfs, a fantastic race that lives in the water, and thus succumb to selfish desires and endlessly war among themselves.
  • Seen in the The Lord of the Rings movies, particularly in Elrond, who almost despises humans as foolish and mentally weak. Elrond's problem with humans is more personal than an expression of elven hauteur. He's still angry at humans — in the person of Isildur — for failing to throw the One Ring into Mount Doom when they (he) had the chance. Since that failure led directly to the problems that were being discussed at that very moment, his harsh words may have been more a moment of pique than anything else. His daughter wanting to leave her entire family to stay with a human man probably plays a big part in this. Most other elves seem far more relaxed about it. Elrond tends to be quite a bit more sullen and openly angry than the usual "preeningly superior haughtiness" that this trope usually indicates, however.
    • Elrond is also Half-Elven, part of a sub-race of elves with human ancestry who can choose to become mortals and be counted amongst Men, or to be immortal and counted as Elves. As such, he saw his only brother choose mortality and die, not something elf society is super well geared towards handling. And now, more recently, he's been watching his daughter making gooey eyes at a humannote  and thus likely to choose mortality; suffice to say Elrond specifically might have some emotional baggage regarding humanity.
  • Star Trek: Insurrection: The Space Amish Ba'ku live in idyllic harmony, and the audience is expected to see them as justified in all their assertions.
  • Star Wars: The Jedi are more than a bit like this — and it's then subverted horribly in Episode III, when their blind adherence to dogma easily allows the Big Bad to drive Anakin Skywalker, The Chosen One, to join The Dark Side and all but exterminate the Jedi and effectively Unperson them.
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space. The aliens do a lot of Cultural Posturing about how enlightened and socially-minded they are, unlike us foolish humans. They come across as Well Intentioned Extremists, and even though the Benevolent Alien Invasion is ultimately thwarted, we're meant to accept that their warning was one worth listening to, and one human character even acknowledges in the final scene that "they're way ahead of us". Ironically, in some ways, they're actually pretty backward. Mostly, though, you can't argue with them because they're really bad at arguing.
    Jeff: Now just hold on a minute.
    Eros: No, you hold on.

  • The Abh in Crest of the Stars and its sequels, being essentially Space Elves, fits this trope perfectly, to the point that the Abh Empress can arrogantly proclaim to a group of human ambassadors that if they win the interstellar war that is brewing behind the scenes, there will be permanent peace within the galaxy because there will no longer be any more petty disputes amongst humans that can escalate into all-out war. And then the trope is subverted by the other half of the humanity (notoriously, Abh do not consider themselves a different race) basically saying "Screw You, Elves!", and going to war. Both societies are shown as seriously flawed, though Abh still come out as less of the hypocrites somehow.
  • The Elves of Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. The protagonist Eragon, who lives with them for quite a while, doesn't seem to notice (and also becomes elven later on). The text makes it apparent that the elves are more in tune with nature, more logical, more attractive, more graceful, more physically capable, more intelligent, more magical, and even more sexually liberated than humans are. It runs so deep in this series that non-Elves will regularly point out their own inferiority to Elves (usually along the lines of "We're not as good as you elves at this, but we manage"). The Elf being spoken to always accepts this as indisputable fact, and never disagrees.
  • Discworld uses this with The Fair Folk, whose glamour produces a crushing inferiority complex in others. Readily averted by cats, bees, and any character that thinks like a witch (that is: very, very hard). Also by dwarves and trolls, whose instinctive reaction on meeting an elf is to bash it with something hard, heavy and/or sharp.
  • The Houyhnhnms of Swift's Gulliver's Travels are about as bad as it gets. They aren't a magical race, but they fill this trope quite well. Then again, considering that Gulliver is an Unreliable Narrator who worships any backward race he encounters, there's much literary debate over whether the reader is actually expected to have such an adverse reaction to the Houyhnhnms and their hypocrisy.
  • The Memory, Sorrow and Thorn books by Tad Williams. The Sithi can't help coming up with subtle put-downs, condescending behavior, and reproaches about old injustices done to them by ancestors who have been dead for centuries. Their high-bred human allies mostly ignore them.
  • In C.L. Wilson's Tairen Soul books, the Fey are so self-righteous and brash that the "evil/stupid" humans are on the verge of cancelling their alliance. The strange thing is that the author is completely with the Fey on that. The author seems to think it is their natural right to be arrogant. The "good" humans are the ones who don't take offense at being treated with condescension.
  • Star Wars Legends rarely relies on this trope, but the Caamasi might count. They're basically a martyred race of pacifists who will fight if they must and are tirelessly moral. Still, they don't feature all that heavily, and most of them don't spend their page time lording it over other cultures. When other races try to hold them up as this for political reasons in The Hand of Thrawn the Caamasi get shouted down for disagreeing.
  • Lampshaded in The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. The first human protagonist, Kellen, does quickly come to admire elves and elven culture, and these elves are fairly varied and polite and, well, human, as elves go. He does take minor offense when an older elf telling him some ancient history implies that humans did something or other because it's a natural human failing. A later human protagonist on the same side flatly dislikes elves for their formality and their absolute perfectionist attitude, though since they're all fighting a war he tries to keep it under wraps. It's actually a saying in that 'verse that you can't win an argument with elves since they'll just change the subject.
  • The Aurënfaie in Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner novels have this going on in spades. Longer lifespans (and thus perceived greater experience and wisdom) than humans. Innate magical potential (all the more so because human magical potential originates from cross-breeding with them). A language that is difficult for most humans to pronounce properly. Plus, a Monotheistic religion while the humans are following their own gaggle of silly gods. All of this leads to a tendency to drag out any kind of decision making for a length of time that makes most humans want to give up and leave.
  • The People in Artemis Fowl call humans "Mud Men", and the few human characters they interact with never really call them out on it. Possibly because said humans (especially Artemis) tend to notice that the People are the ones hiding from the humans, so what are they so proud of? Also because Artemis agrees that humans fight too much and ruin the ecosystem, the People's most common arguments.
  • There's a rather interesting twist on this trope in Kathryn Lasky's Guardians of Ga'Hoole books, in which all the main characters are owls. The owls consider themselves superior to other birds because most other birds don't regurgitate pellets. The other birds never take offense.
    • Neither do the nest-maid snakes, who are defined entirely as servants to owl families.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's Elves (of The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion) aren't really like this, but some of the second-hand false impressions of them by people like Boromir and dwarves (as well as false portrayal in adaptations) fit the trope. It very much depends on the Elf. Thingol starts out as a straight example, but the trope is totally averted with Finrod Felagund, who's prepared to risk his life to help out the son of his human friend/fellow warrior.
    • This is something of a Justified Trope (to the extent that it even applies) once you read the backstory - the living Elves remaining in Middle-Earth by the time of The War of the Ring are the last survivors of a once-great race who have endured a series of rather catastrophic wars which basically ended their control of the land. As a result, the remainder are a) atypically intelligent, kind, and badass, and b) very much aware of their people's past failings. Basically, all the Elves you Could Argue With were killed or left Middle-Earth for good centuries ago.
    • Averted in The Hobbit, in which the Elves of Mirkwood (and King Thranduil in particular) act more like paranoid rednecks than untouchable paragons of greatness. They live in a dank forest overrun by giant evil spiders, kidnap and imprison the Dwarves for no good reason, and then throw a huge party and get so blackout drunk that the Main Characters are able to escape. In contrast, the Noldor of Rivendell are portrayed as wise and noble, but they also avert the trope by being friendly and gracious hosts.
    • Frodo himself in The Fellowship Of The Ring gently mocks Gildor's Non-Answer to his question by coming up with a fake "proverb" that one can't ask an elf anything, because they say yes and no at the same time. Averted because Gildor himself thought it was Actually Pretty Funny.
  • The gnomes of the Gnomes faux field guide are quietly disapproving of humanity for the way we despoil nature, in comparison to their own ways. When the authors try to defend the human race, they are quickly embarrassed into stopping. This irritates many readers in regards to what is otherwise a very fine book, because the fact that the gnomes have one-thousandth our mass (and therefore require one-thousandth the resources to feed), can perfectly control their (already low) fertility, live for hundreds of years, can understand animal speech, and have access to magic probably makes it a little easier for them to live in harmony with Mother Earth, y'know? But they're never called out on this.
  • The Harry Potter series has the centaurs who refuse to accept any sort of human dominion over themselves, and indeed even contact with humans is seen as a crime. Though it ends up being averted, as Hagrid, arguably the character who has the most contact with centaurs, regularly gets frustrated with them and considers them to have their heads in the clouds. Neither the narration nor other characters consider him wrong. In fact, Firenze, a centaur who is eventually banished for continued contact with humans, is treated as the most heroic and open-minded of his kind. Ironically, the only elves we do see in the series avert the trope entirely, as they have a psychological compulsion to serve their master's wishes.
    • Wizards themselves: they restrict contact with normal people, and consider the problems of the country they live in to be nothing to do with them. They are shown as superior (and arrogant because of it) all the time. However, this is ultimately averted. A recurring theme of the series is that wizard culture is heavily flawed, featuring casual Fantastic Racism and a comically incompetent government. The one time a character does get to argue with wizards, it's the Prime Minister of the UK, who is bewildered at how badly they've been managing the war with Voldemort, and it's pretty clear that he's got a point.
  • The Star Trek: Destiny series features the Caeliar, a race of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who have evolved almost completely beyond the need for physical bodies, have no crime, poverty, or want, and are devoted completely to artistic and scientific pursuits. They have just enough respect for others' beliefs to not try to convince other races that the Caeliar's way is correct, but no amount of cajoling will convince them that the Caeliar's way is wrong. They are severely isolationist but are Actual Pacifists, which leads various characters who stumble upon their home planet to become permanent "guests". Not a bad place to be, all things considered, but don't argue too much. Make too much noise or disrupt their work and the Caeliar will teleport you to a nice uninhabited planet a few billion light-years away, just to make sure you never get home with information about them.
  • Timothy Zahn's Warhorse has the Tampies, who live in complete harmony with all living things and have no trouble being snooty about it.
  • The Cetagandians in the Vorkosigan Saga are a human variety of this, being obsessed with aesthetic accomplishments and possessing an extreme superiority complex. Naturally Barrayarans have other ideas.
    • Betans can be kind of like this, everyone making a fuss about how morally superior they are. Mind you this is a planet whose GNP is based on weapons development and sex tourism.
    • The Barrayarans themselves are this in matters of war, frequently dismissing other militaries for their supposed lack of discipline (and recruitment of women).
  • In Dragonlance the Qualinesti elves and especially the Silvanesti elves. Their common belief is that they are the chosen race of the god of good, Paladine (despite failing in actually doing something good to the world), they're the best in everything, and they blame humans for every single bad thing happened to Krynn, especially the Cataclysm and the return of the chromatic dragons. Oh, they're also so arrogant that they'll enslave their less advanced cousins, the Kagonesti. They eventually pay for their hubris by losing their homelands (Silvanost's taken by minotaurs, while Qualinost is destroyed by a giant dragon).
    • What makes things worse is that, according to all lore on the setting, elves genuinely were created by the Gods of Good, led by Paladine. Then again, as has been noted, The Gods of Good really aren't that convincing at being forces of good...
    • Let's really be clear here: the awfulness of the elves can be summarized quite simply in the fact that they caused the Cataclysm. Elven bigots who served as councilors to the King-Priest were secretly goading him along the whole time, planning on basically using humans united by the King-Priest to exterminate first the creatures of Evil (goblinoids, ogres, etc)... and then to wipe out fellow creatures of Good and Neutral who they found unpleasant, such as dwarves, gnomes and Kender. As we all know, this led to the destruction of the Old World. In fact, making things worse, the story of Lord Soth the Death Knight explicitly calls out that he was manipulated into abandoning his quest to stop the Cataclysm by three elven priestesses who were in on the conspiracy and, with typical elven arrogance, didn't believe the Gods of Good would actually agree to destroy the world to preserve the Balance Between Good and Evil. About the only silver lining is that at least those three priestesses found themselves damned to an eternity of torment as banshees for their sins.
  • The antihero of Jack Vance's "Green Magic" is a master of the Black and White Arts who discovers the existence of an even more powerful form of magic. He actually does argue with elves, or rather the sprites of the Green Plane, and makes himself such a nuisance to them that they eventually give up and teach him Green magic, although they repeatedly warn him it's a terrible idea. They were right: it turns out that human beings are just too primitive to ever become competent in Green magic... oh, and once exposed to the indescribable beauty of the Green plane, no human will ever again be content with anything on Earth.
  • Weirdly subverted in The Riyria Revelations. The elves are better than humans in every way (stronger, faster, tougher, more technologically advanced, and better at magic), but they have a single crippling weakness: their incredibly low birthrate. This allowed the humans to beat the elves in an ancient war by simply Zerg Rushing them until the elves arranged a peace treaty to end the (to them) unbearable losses. As one of the main characters put it, "the elves were drowning in a floodtide of humanity."
  • Various magical species (including the Sidhe) in The Dresden Files have this attitude towards themselves, but it's an unusual example of this trope because the various species are not seen as such by humans; Harry defies the hell out of the "don't mock them back" aspect of this trope (and says Screw You, Elves! at every available opportunity) and the fact that no other humans do it is more because the elves are incredibly dangerous rather than because the humans agree with their declarations of superiority. Clearly an example where the author fully intended them to be annoying even when they aren't being openly antagonistic.
  • By the same author, Kitai of the Marat in Codex Alera often talks about the shortcomings of the human Alerans, but she avoids the usual problems of this trope because: she herself is a likeable and sympathetic character, her exclamations of "_____ is/are insane!" are usually a Running Gag played for comic effect, her observations take the form of "your people are crazy" rather than "my people are awesome" and her criticisms are of social institutions that are either harmlessly ridiculous (the prudishness about nudity and sex) or clearly immoral (slavery), so she has a point. Any annoyance is also reduced by the fact that her people are clearly not intended by the author to be a perfect Superior Species; in the first book they are The Horde of savage cannibals whom the Big Bad easily manipulates into doing his dirty work with the intention of crushing them afterwards, and though they quickly show themselves to be a complex people their society clearly has a host of its own problems, even if they're different problems from the "civilised" Alerans.
  • The House of Night provides us with a serious in-universe example. Vampyre society is considered- both in-universe and by the authors- to be completely perfect. The narrative explicitly states that vampyres are smarter, hotter, stronger, and more creative than humanity. The only good humans in the story all assist vampyres in some way. Any humans who don't like vampyres are invariably hateful, murderous people who are hopelessly envious of the vampyres' perfection and probably serving evil.
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, the gentleman with the thistle-down hair is absolutely convinced that his beloved humans enjoy his games as much as he does. The idea that they are consistently horrified by their slavery on his account is so far removed from his own frame of reference that they just can't convey the notion to him.
  • A mild example, but in Elminster: The Making of a Mage, Braer gently lectures Elminster (when he's become a female version of himself named Elmara) on how elves live in tune with nature, while humans destroy everything which they can't control.
  • Steven Brust's Dragaera novels are built on the question of "if elves are so amazing and perfect, how come they aren't dominating the world?" In Dragaera, they are. However, this comes not from any moral superiority: just the advantages of a greater size, a much longer lifespan and a culture that integrates 100,000 years of study in magic and strategy. It's even suggested they were made so by their Abusive Precursors. As a result, they're often outrageous bastards who consider everything they do to be in the right. Humans residing in the elven lands suffer a stigma like that of immigrants, restricted to lower-class jobs and expected to stay out of the way.
  • It is literally impossible to win an argument with the Lambertians of Permutation City. Their method of communication is structured in such a way that any logical error is necessarily a syntactical error as well, meaning that if a group of Lambertians is told a fallacious argument, they will notice the error within a matter of minutes and then tell you what's really true. This backfires on the outsiders who seek their help to save their own universe, because the Lambertians live Inside a Computer System, but are not advanced enough to know that computers can exist. Therefore, they find the claim that they were created to be absurd because they have worked out a theory that explains how their universe could have come into existence naturally. Not only do they try to "correct" their creators and do nothing to help, but since their creators are also living in a simulation (it's complicated) this somehow makes the first simulation irrelevant, and the other universe collapses.
  • An interesting aversion occurs in Terry Brooks' Shannara series. The elves there are the only sapient race not descended from humanity, and really are older and more naturally magical than humanity or the other races. Interestingly, though, they had, well before the beginning of the first series, forgotten their heritage and the vast bulk of their magical abilities. That is not to say that there were no arrogant elves, but the primary victims of their arrogance were other elves. The elves as a people had no particular sense of superiority, even during periods when they were among the best organized and most powerful factions.
  • The Next in Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter's The Long Earth series come across as this. Aside from the usual traits associated with this trope (sexual liberation, preposterously advanced intelligence, perfectly logical, almost perfectly utopian society, outward condescension to regular humans), regular humans routinely talk up their superiority and are even implied to be on the path to completely replace humanity in the future.
  • A self-righteous example would be the Hero Antagonist Mizzamir in the book Villains by Necessity. The other elves have all left for a distant world, but he remained behind to guide mankind to a glorious future. No one dares argue with him, even as he brainwashes dissident citizens into loyal ones.
  • Subverted in Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard. The elves of Alfheim think this is the case. Most of them have a very high opinion of themselves and believe that they're naturally superior to the other races of the nine worlds. The reality is that they aren't impressive at all. They're mortal, aren't graceful or in tune with nature, and they haven't been able to use magic for centuries. They aren't even attractive, as they're described as being weirdly thin with unsettlingly large eyes. Needless to say, nobody agrees with their perception of themselves nor do they make any effort to hide it.
  • The Adem from The Kingkiller Chronicle are this, effortlessly better than every other society martially, socially, musically, morally, and able to refute any objection the protagonist has to their Mary Sue Topia.
  • Adverted in Shannon Messenger's Keeper of the Lost Cities where Elvin society ends up not being as perfect as it seemed at first glance, with elves practicing a form of eugenism called Matchmaking and any elf that does not fit their ideal is shunned and condemned to live their whole life as a second-class citizen. Still, they are eternally young, beautiful, have no concept of racism by Wordof God and are seemingly unable of violence, to the point where they keep looking down on humans who are constantly at war with each other — though the Big Bad admires humans for this feature, as elves literally die from hurting others because their minds are too fragile to handle culpability. They all possess superhuman abilities beyond human grasp such as telekinesis, thermal regulation, super strength and most of them possess an extra Superpower (called a Talent), such as Invisibility, Technopathy, or Telepathy, that they unlock in their teenage years. They are also heavily implied to be much smarter than humans, as one of the main characters openly mocks Einstein saying he's "not very smart" and tells the main character, who is in 12th grade at 12, she's average by Elvin standards as the dumbest elf ever would outmatch the smartest human with little to no effort. They are also much more advanced technologically than humans, as they have achieved teleportation and claim they could expand human lifetimes, treat cancer and infertility, but choose not to because they believe humans would abuse their technology or find a way to make it harmful. Thus, nuclear bombs were derived from humans corrupting Elvin technology - at a time elves decided to "monitor" humans and help them from the shadows - and things as mundane as chocolate cake and electricity were gifted by the elves. Plus, it doesn't help that every human that encounters them is in awe of their beauty and perfection and does not call them out for being condescending toward humans and being arrogant in general. They literally had a giant statue of a human with "rough features" kneeling in front of a perfectly beautiful elf built in a city they intended to be primarily inhabited by humans. And once it was discovered that the reason why humans tried to overthrow them millennia ago — which is also the reason why elves choose to abandon them and hide themselves in their sheltered world — was because a group of elves were kidnapping them and conducting experiments on them while the Elvin Council refused to address the problem, Elvin authorities and the main character, even though she was raised by humans, decide not to reveal the information in fear of causing a riot.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5:
    • Subverted by Lennier, who is a humble, soft-spoken servant, and happy to be so. The humans he knows are more upfront about their badassery while he simply keeps it hidden. Usually...
    • Delenn is more complicated. Her ladylike demeanor and noblesse oblige can be mistaken for this. However she is not unthinkingly arrogant or self-righteous, and she calls out many of her own people as self-righteous pricks for being so.
    • Played straight by a number of other Minbari, although it's not universal. The warrior caste Minbari in particular seem to be more oafish than being examples of this trope.
    • The Vorlons, on the other hand, play this trope alarmingly straight. They're better than everyone else (even the Minbari look up to them) and there is literally no arguing with them because a) they're always right and b) it's rather hard to argue with someone who talks in cryptic koans all the time and c) they're vastly more powerful than you. They've also manipulated most of the other races to see them as angelic beings. Sheridan finally snaps in spectacular style. Subverted by Kosh, who was often convinced to help and listen in various ways, including taking an action he knew would lead to his death. Sheridan mistook his attitude for this trope and didn't realize what Kosh actually meant until it was too late[1].
  • The Humanoid Cylons in Battlestar Galactica (2003) have shades of this. The war between Humans and Cylons basically boils down to this:
    Cylon: Humans are violent monsters! We will destroy you all!
    Human: You attacked us! We will retaliate!
    Cylon: See! I told you so!
  • In the Dinotopia miniseries, Karl and David are completely unable to convince the Dinotopians that people living anywhere else have it better than they do. Cars, airplanes, and television simply can't hold a candle to their intellectual, pacifistic self-satisfaction, and any argument the brothers can offer is instantaneously deflected. Did I mention they're vegetarians and In Harmony With Nature? (except for the animals they kill to feed the T-Rexes). The books have some elements of this but are less explicit about it.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Silurians. While the Doctor usually tries for a peaceful solution with most foes, he turns this tendency up every time he meets the Silurians, completely ignoring the fact that they're always armed to the teeth and just itching to cleanse their home planet of the ugly monkeys that have taken up residence in the past two million or so years. When the inevitable bloodshed occurs each episode, it's always the humans to blame.
    • Subverted with the Time Lords. Insufferable arrogance seems to be their greatest defining trait, what with being the first race to develop time travel and the self-appointed preservers of the timeline, they have a habit of looking down on everyone else. Even the Doctor occasionally slips into old habits, and one of the main functions of his companions is to call him out. However, this is repeatedly pointed out and discussed — for the most part, the Time Lords are depicted as varying between insufferably arrogant and out of touch, and having delusions of godhood that aren't necessarily total delusions, what with how they're absurdly powerful, but can and should still be argued with.
  • This is Joel's relationship with the locals in Northern Exposure. He's always in the wrong, even when he's right.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • The Nox are also bad about this. They are devout pacifists in tune with nature and look down upon humans as immature and violent, and seem to forget that their own pacifist lifestyle is only possible because they can cloak whole cities and perform feats of healing up to and including reviving the recently killed.
    • Deconstructed with the Tollans, who, like the Nox, were introduced in the first season as a "perfect" peace-loving civilization which talked down to the main characters. By their final appearance in the fifth season, it's revealed that the Tollan leadership simply becomes The Quisling when it's their civilization which is threatened.
  • Star Trek
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: The alien races that qualify for this trope (such as the Organians) are always pacifists speaking out against some conflict or other.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: The first couple seasons (while Gene Roddenberry was still alive and overseeing the show) managed to turn humans into the elves, with the Federation portrayed as an insufferably pacifist and socialist Utopia. The season one finale is even devoted largely to a trio of Human Popsicle 20th century strawmen who are repeatedly lectured about how much they suck for being from the 20th century. Hell, the very concept of the Patrick Stewart Speech is this trope made manifest.
      • Ultimately subverted in that episode, since the flawed 20th-century Jerkass businessman is the only one able to tell that the Romulan captain is just as clueless as they are and is willing to call him out on it, defusing a potentially hostile standoff that could have resulted in war. He's able to do this precisely because he still has an "outdated" mindset.note 
    • Star Trek: Picard: Although Elnor is a Nice Guy who doesn't look down on humans like most Romulans and Vulcans note , he's still arrogant about his battle prowess (e.g. "Fight a Qowat Milat and the outcome is not in doubt"). He warns his adversaries to "choose to live" because he will cut them down with his sword if they don't withdraw. And time and again, he proves that his self-confidence is justified.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Space 1889 weirdly inverted, this is many Martians’ opinion about how humans think that their ideas of Christianity, Progress, and Science make them superior. Extra points for some humans thinking that Martians resemble elves (there is very little elfish in their behaviour, though).
  • Shadowrun products address this issue from both sides, with a heavy dose of Lampshading. On the one hand, "elf-wannabes" abound among the humans of the Sixth World, slavishly watching human-bashing shows from Tir Tairngire and saving up for surgery to elf-ify themselves; on the other, actual immortal elves (leftover from Earthdawn) are depicted as callous, spoiled jerkass powermongers, who hold non-immortal elves in nearly as much contempt as humans. Ironically, ordinary elves who just want to get on with their lives find both the "wannabes" and the nobles every bit as distasteful as other humans do.
  • The elves of Warhammer play the trope very straight indeed. The existence of the Elves' natural arrogance is thought to be a result of their exposure to the wild magics that have saturated the Warhammer world since the coming of the Old Ones. Elves are very resistant to magic, thanks to their natural affinity for it, but not completely immune. Rather than physical mutation and madness, such as humans might develop, this racial trait is the price Elves pay (just as the Dwarfs have been made universally stubborn and covetous for gold). But although they share the same basic psychological substrate, the three different kindreds of elves - High, Dark, and Wood Elves, express it in very different ways. Indeed, it might almost be said that the manner in which different elves manifest their race's natural sense of arrogant superiority is the defining feature of the different kindreds' cultures:
    • The Asur (High Elves) behave with a kind of patronising paternalism towards the lesser races – they think that poor, feeble humans and dwarfs are constantly in need of their help and should be saved from themselves by High Elf intervention. They see the preservation of the world and the good things in it as a noble responsibility that falls on their shoulders alone because nobody else is up to the task. The fact that they're not always wrong on this just serves to reinforce their beliefs and rub everyone else up the wrong way.
    • The Druchii (Dark Elves) are obsessed with conquest and domination, and their take on elven superiority is that elves are so much better than everyone else that they can and should take what they want. Elves deserve to rule the world, and the lesser races exist for them to enslave or murder at whim.
    • The Asrai (Wood Elves) are fierce isolationists. They have little to no interest in the affairs of the lesser races and see little point in having any dealings with them beyond telling them to get out of their forests at the point of an arrow. However, there is something of a schizophrenic duality at the heart of the Wood Elves, and if they do find themselves dealing with others then they might just as easily act as patronising but kind-hearted as the High Elves or as callous and murderous as the Dark Elves.
      • Naturally each of the three cultures takes a very dim view of the others. The High Elves think the Dark Elves are amoral monsters, completely at odds with the noble duty of their race. The Dark Elves think of the High Elves as weaklings, who forfeit their birthright to rule by showing anything but disdain for races beneath them. Both think of the Wood Elves as rustic nobodies whose superior elven potential is being completely wasted. For their part, the Wood Elves think the High and Dark Elves are engaged in pointless and empty pursuits by dealing with the lesser races at all, and collectively have a bit of chip on their shoulder for being left to fend for themselves. Only a rare few elves seem to exhibit a more enlightened, less arrogant approach to other races. The most prominent example is the High Elf High Loremaster, Teclis, whose attitudes appear to have been shaped by the fact that he is physically weak and prone to illness, and hence an uncomfortable reminder to other High Elves of a frailty they think their race above. In the novel Sword of Caledor, Teclis muses on the inherent attitudes of elves and thinks that the reason they always come out best in comparison with humans is that it's always the elves who set the criteria. Teclis became fond of humans after helping them win the Great War Against Chaos (it helped that he's the most powerful wizard in the world), and founded the Colleges of Magic in the human city of Altdorf, teaching human students. He is a rare exception, and he knows it.
      • At one point in the Storm of Chaos campaign, the Empire were getting owned by Chaos Daemons, until Teclis turns up and wipes out an entire daemon army with one spell. The Grand Theogonist thanks him by calling him a Dirty Coward for using magic. At this point Teclis gets annoyed and decides to show why you Do Not Taunt Cthulhu by pissing off and leaving the Empire to fight Chaos alone (he knew they would win without him but decided to let the humans do the fighting and dying to teach them some manners).
    • Oddly enough, the dwarves sometimes have shades of this despite Elves Versus Dwarves being a good summary of both races' relationships. The dwarves are annoyed by the elves but also look down on humans as weaker, less skilled, and making inferior beer ("badly made" and "human" have the same root in Khazalid), not to mention humans being so vulnerable to Chaos corruption (dwarves use runes instead of the winds of magic, a much slower and rarer process but at least it doesn't backfire). They are honorable to fault, however, and will come to the Empire's aid as needed because of an oath dating back to Sigmar.
    • The Lizardmen of Lustria have this stance as they are the hand-crafted servants of the Old Ones, and pride themselves on still following a fragmentary interperetation of their "Great Plan". The "warmblood" races are either renegade creations of the Old Ones that need to be brought back into line, or mutations that will eventually be cleansed from the world when the time is right. The ruling Slann mage-priests, tens-of-millennia-old wizards ancient enough to remember the world before the arrival of Chaos, are among the few races that can posture like this towards the elves themselves — to hear them tell it, their geomantic web is the only reason Caeldor Dragontamer's Great Vortex (a magic sink in Ulthuan that protects the mortal world from daemonic invasion) remains stable.
  • The Eldar of Warhammer 40,000 play this trope straight in every dealing with the "lesser races". It often fails to work because the other races are either Always Chaotic Evil and Ax-Crazy or Xenophobes and inevitably tell them Screw You, Elves! with the biggest and nastiest guns at hand. Not that the Eldar are any better...
    • First you have the Craftworld Eldar, who take their arrogance to the levels of "we're better than everyone else, so we're allowed to kill thousands of the lesser races to preserve the lives of a few of us" (though to be fair, everyone else in the setting has the same mentality). Next, you have the Dark Eldar, who take their arrogance level to "we're better than everyone else, so we're allowed to kidnap thousands of the lesser races and take them back to our inter-dimensional Wretched Hive city and brutally torture, rape and kill them because we need to eat their emotions and souls, and besides, it's fun". Yep. Unlike their Fantasy counterparts, however, while the Craftworld and Dark Eldar don't like each other, they recognize each other as Eldar and are fully capable of cooperating for mutual benefit without stabbing each other in the back. And then there's the Harlequins, a sect of space-elf ninja thespians dedicated to worship of the lost Eldar god Cegorach and thwarting the efforts of Chaos. Hilariously, these Monster Clowns who keep liquifying people and being mysterious and utterly terrifying for no reason, are also the least arrogant and xenophobic (being the most likely to ally with humans against Chaos) of the Eldar and thus the most likeable.
    • One of the only, if not the only, Eldar who actually acknowledged that his race really isn't any better than the rest of the galaxy was a philosopher who had been given the title "the Perverse" because he considered the Orks to be the Only Sane Race. His reasoning was that Orks are thriving, have all their great questions answered, and live simple lives of eating, sleeping, and fighting (and occasionally looting or cobbling something together). Everyone else, especially the Eldar, are struggling to stay alive as well as facing a number of existential threats.
  • Magic: The Gathering has a sort-of example in the fairytale-inspired "Lorwyn" setting, where elves were, for the first time, just as heavily black-aligned as they were green. In-story, they were so obsessed with beauty that they literally worshiped it, and their caste-system was determined by who was the most beautiful. Bad enough on its own, right? Well, because they were so beautiful, they considered themselves the de facto rulers of the entire setting, and actively hunted down and killed "eyeblights," creatures they deemed "too ugly to live", which included goblins (especially goblins,) and even disfigured elves. Granted, when Lorwyn was plunged into a Brothers Grimm-esque darkness and became "Shadowmoor," a setting which was decidedly less interested in looking pretty, this made their change in position all the more satisfying.
  • Old World of Darkness zig zags between this straight and averting it. On one hand, the Kindred are, individually, superior to humankind: physically stronger, longer-lived, able to regenerate from non-fatal injury, and in possession of unimaginable powers few if any humans ever dare to match, and the supposed ways to kill them (garlic, stake through the heart, running water) are purely hogwashnote  They've also been secretly controlling and manipulating human society for centuries for their own gain, for as long as there has been human society. On the other hand, vampires are by no means impervious to being killed with mundane weapons (it just takes a hell of a lot more damage to put them down for good), and humanity vastly outnumbers theirs, and many fully acknowledge that if humanity rallied against them in any sort of numbers, they would be wiped out completely. As a result, they carefully tend to The Masquerade, swiftly and severely punishing anyone who violates it, lest humans gain definitive proof of vampires and organize against them.
  • The Sidhe in Changeling: The Dreaming are immune to being made to look like fools with magic, and if you manage to do it the mundane way, they get a big stack of bonuses to cut you back down to size.
  • Dungeons & Dragons has an unfortunate history with this trope. The AD&D 2nd Edition splatbook "The Complete Guide to Elves", also known as "The Complete Book of the Master Race" in some DM circles, is still something of an Old Shame for Wizards of the Coast for how far it goes into making elves very overpowered mechanically with only very slight (mainly roleplay) drawbacks, along with fluff that paints them as highly smug, supremacist bastards.
    • Averted with Celestials in the D&D 3.5 supplement The Book of Exalted Deeds, who are happy to debate the merits of Chaotic Good vs. Neutral Good vs. Lawful Good with anyone who can muster the nerve to argue with them.
    • In second-ed D&D setting Planescape all planars saw themselves as inherently superior to primes (anyone from the Prime Material Plane, including elves). Toril, Krynn, Athas – it didn't matter where on the Prime you were from or which race you were until you proved otherwise you were Clueless and had no idea how the planes worked or what the answers to life were.
    • Averted in Eberron. Elves in this setting are less likely to lecture you and more likely to cleave you in half with a giant two-bladed scimitar.
    • Spelljammer at least calls the elves out on it. You'd be hard-pressed to find any non-elf in the setting who doesn't find the Elven Imperial Fleet completely insufferable.
    • An amusing subversion are the tritons, a deep-water type of merfolk. Theirs is a long history of fighting horrible things in the oceans miles below the surface, and so have the usual arrogance of a Proud Warrior Race, but because these battles happen miles below the surface and there's little contact between them and land, no one knows or cares what the tritons are talking about, leading to a lot of bruised egos.
  • The elf Splatbook for Pathfinder really went out of its way to establish that elves are entirely more awesome than any other race.
  • The Europans are the closest species Rocket Age has to elves, being immortal, psychic, technologically superior, and potentially the oldest species in the solar system. They tend to go on about this a lot the few times they even deign to talk to the other species, although they do send out anthropologists to learn more about them. However, the real reason you can't say screw you Europans tends to be... unpleasant.

    Video Games 
  • The Viera in Final Fantasy XII consider themselves to be above the Hume race since they don't cause wars or seek absolute power like Humes do. Only the main characters hear this and they never tried to show how Humes are not savages. Only a handful of Viera have a positive view of the Humes.
    • Elaborating on that, there was only one Viera in the game who seemed to outright like Humes and the world outside her village, but she was a bit... weird (her "liking" could be argued to be a fetish). There is a young Viera who was unsure what to think of the outside world, but at least she liked to be around Hume children. There are two traveling Viera who were very disappointed by what the world had to offer and only were impressed after watching the sea, of all things. One Viera looked down on humans initially, but after learning that a human sacrificed his life in an attempt to defeat dangerous dragon, changes her mind and begins sharing her knowledge with Humes. Fran, one of the main characters and a Viera who has led a pretty interesting life and is best friends (and possibly more) with a Hume, seemed quite regretful of leaving the village and cutting her connection with the supernatural woods, calling it a life of solitude.
  • Inverted in Dragon Age where elves are considered lesser and barbaric by the humans, who take up the arrogant mantle and enslave the elves; even after the elves are freed from slavery they're still third-class citizens. Overall, the series likes to play this trope straight, then deconstruct it, then play it straight again, then dissect it, then defy it, then deconstruct it again, then invert get the idea.
    • Some Dalish elves (who lead nomadic lives outside human settlements) attempt to invoke this over and over, but it never works. While the Dalish revere their ancestral elves as The Beautiful Elite and seek to restore their lost culture, they're still seen as barbaric dirt-dwellers by most humans, and dismissed as either heathen savages or haughty bigots by many fellow city elves. Though this varies from clan to clan.
    • Seems to be played straight with Solas at the end of Inquisition, who seeks to restore the ancient elven empire (that could effortlessly use magic and was technologically superior to anyone else in Thedas during its heyday) and tear down the Veil, regardless of the harm to Thedas. He (like other surviving ancients) doesn't consider either of the existing Elf cultures to really be Elves either; he compares it to the difference between normal humans and the Tranquil (those magically stripped of emotion and personality). However, you are allowed to argue with him if you choose, indeed you can condemn his plan to tear down the Veil as monstrous, considering it will kill basically everyone in Thedas. If you have a good relationship with him, he'll actually agree, and all but begs you to prove him wrong when next time you inevitably come into contact.
    • Played with by Sera in Inquisition, a city elf with internalized racism who sees all "elfy" elves as automatically haughty bigots while only "non-elfy" elves like her can be accepting and open-minded. The Inquisitor can never meaningfully counter-argue, and she never changes her stance on it (though becomes less mean-spirited about it in Trespasser). While Solas is also rather bigoted toward most modern elves (particularly the Dalish) due to prefering ancient Elvhen history and culture, a Dalish Inquisitor who gains high Relationship Values can show him there's some value in Dalish culture, while a Low Approval Inquisitor can call him out on his bigoted attitude and get a grudging agreement. Sera gives no such leeway, and in fact will break up with a romanced Dalish Inquisitor who refuses to agree the elven gods are fake. Also, most of Sera's bigoted and outright mean-spirited statement about elves ends up being proven correct. (Like the elven gods being fake, elves being responsible for their own downfall rather than humans, the elven servants in Trespasser being suspicious, and so on).
    • While not elves, the Qunari are a straighter example of the trope. The general argument presented is that Qunari are perfect because they are ordered and the only people we see oppose what they want are either massive strawmen or religious fanatics who see them only as heretics. Even Hawke only gets to call them butchers. It is ignored how they take children away from their parents, force others to accept only one role in life, and are blind to the fact that they might be wrong.
      • Inquisition finally gets a better perspective on the Qun via Iron Bull. Bull very much seems to think that the Qun is better in many ways, they are ordered, well trained, and seem pretty good at determining a profession a person is well suited for. However, it is emphasized that it works well because they eradicate anything that works outside of their idea of order. Re-education was mentioned. If you live the life the Qun sets out for you, it will be good. If you deviate from it or waver in your dedication, you will be brainwashed, exiled, or killed. There's also a fair amount of doublethink involved; for instance, they enforce strict gender roles by declaring that anyone not following them is mistaken about their gender identity.
      • Inquisition's DLC Trespasser then completely subverts this trope by making the Qunari the Big Bad of the entire DLC (as well as giving a highly negative portrayal of the Qun). It's worth noting that the negative implications had been there since Origins, but this is the first time that they are really in the player's face.
      • While this was only in supplementary material rather than in the main games themselves, the Qunari had already been presented as one of the Big Bads in the Dragon Age comic series, Those Who Speak, subverting this trope good and proper. Alistair, Varric and Isabela are captured by the Qunari and, after a few weeks in prison, Alistair and Varric are taken to the new Arishok, who is actually Sten, Alistair's old friend from his adventures in Origins, someone who has a lot of respect for Alistair... and all this earns him is a backhand to the face and imprisonment for him and Varric in the nicer-looking cells, while Isabela is taken to be tortured and re-educated by a Tamassran (her crew have also been captured and kept in these pit-like cells). It takes Alistair defeating Arishok in single combat for them to actually lay off and entertain the idea of an alliance. While they do become allies, in the end, it still proves that Qunari philosophy isn't actually that compassionate to anyone who isn't Qunari, even if that person is "Basalit-an" (a respected outsider) or even their "kadan" (a close friend or loved one).
    • In Inquisition, Madame Vivienne de Fer, the Orlesian noble and Pro-Circle mage frequently goes on Character Filibusters extolling the virtues of her Orlesian image-obsessed politics, Deadly Decadent Court, and Chantry Circles while harshly condemning the dangers and "selfishness" of mage freedom, despite being a mage who lives outside Circle prison towers herself, and neither the Inquisitor nor companions can ever meaningfully counter-argue. The few weak rebuttals they can give, Vivienne easily twists their words around to support her own view, and she almost always gets the last word. Vivienne is also openly vain and haughty, but this is framed as a character strength rather than a flaw, and no matter what the player's choices Vivienne always succeeds in her goal of restoring the Circles with herself at the helm, possibly as this world's equivalent of Fantasy Pope.
      • On this note, the upper echelons of Orlesian society in general pretty much intentionally make this trope part of their culture, mixing it in with deadly court intrigues in a practice known as "the Game" or "the Great Game." Basically, you have to be openly sure of yourself and impregnable against criticism, because even the slightest, tiniest weakness that your enemy can exploit will be exploited, and leave you vulnerable to the wolves of the Court to tear you apart, sometimes figuratively, and sometimes literally. Anything from having your assassination plot against a rival exposed, to picking the wrong utensil at a dinner can be used as ammunition against you, and Maker help you if you try to slander an enemy without something to back it up. Unfortunately, among the more humble members of the Inquisition, this does Vivienne or the rest of the Orlesian elite few favors in winning their friendship. Though again, the player and companions are never allowed to meaningfully counter-argue any of her points to her face, only when she's out of earshot, so she's shielded by the writers from ever having to admit she might be wrong or address a meaningful counter-arguement to any of her views.
    • A major part of the setting is that every faction acts like this, and other than a few defectors from the underclasses absolutely nobody is buying it.
  • Caesar's Legion from Fallout: New Vegas has some issues with this; despite the absolutely horrifying things the Legion does (such as the slavery, sexism, executing detractors, assimilating and erasing entire cultures at a time, and enough raping and pillaging that would make Conan the Barbarian blush to name a few) you never get a chance to actually counter-argue these points with the faction, with the best excuse from Caesar himself being that it's all "for the greater good." Despite all of this, they're the ones who consider the other factions of the wastelands as inferior, seeing organized militaries like the New California Republic or isolationist tech-hoarders like the Brotherhood of Steel as the "savages" and "profligates", despite the fact that neither of those factions commit atrocities at nearly the same level as the Legion do on a regular basis.
  • The Elf Queen of Dragon Quest III is so upset that her daughter Anne eloped with a 'horrible human boy' that she curses his hometown, sending everyone there into eternal, unaging slumber. The only one who escaped that fate is the boy's father... who instead spends years pleading with the Queen to change her mind, to no avail. By the time your heroes arrive, the father's a withered old man, and the Queen still doesn't care. Despite all this, the father is surprisingly civil about having his whole life ripped away from him and all.
  • Parodied in Overlord, where the elves are just too full of themselves (and stupid) to notice (or care).
  • The Mandalorians in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords will not hesitate to outline how they are, in every way conceivable, superior to those puny little Jedi. Considering you are a Jedi in the game, it is surprising how little opportunity you get to disagree with them. Particularly interesting is that you can badmouth the Mandalorians but only as long as none of them are actually within earshot...note  You can defeat them in honorable combat in their sparring matches, which gets most of them to respect your skills. Not to mention how many of these "perfect" warriors you mow down in the game. There's also Atris and Kreia scolding you at every opportunity they can.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic: Everyone, particularly light-aligned Sith end up on the receiving end of scolding lectures by Jedi who are quite full of themselves. If you are a Jedi character, you are the "elf" that everyone wants to argue with.
    • However, when you are light-aligned Sith, you get the chance to shove their arguments right back in their face more often than not. Some of them will even listen to reason and back down, especially in the Warrior path (Jedi starting needless fights out of sheer arrogance is a minor Running Gag in the Light Inquisor path). As a Dark-aligned Sith, you generally just don't give a damn what they think. They are about to die after all.
  • Ara Fell plays with this one. While Elven magic and equipment are legitimately better than anything humans have come up with, their past decisions are also why the Floating Continent of Ara Fell is doomed. It's also pointed out that the ancient war between Elves and Vampires which was itself actually started by an evil elf! went poorly for Elves, but Humans have done much better despite being weaker since humanity is naturally more aggressive.
  • Mass Effect does this quite often with the Turian councilor. If you free the Rachni Queen, he chastises you for loosing a potentially fatal threat upon the galaxy. If you opt to kill the Queen instead, he asks if you routinely commit genocide. The guy just can't be pleased, most likely due to Fantastic Racism.
    • The Asari also frequently exhibit this attitude, acting like they are the most enlightened species in the galaxy, and controlling galaxy politics as such. However, this attitude falls flat on its face when it's revealed in the 3rd game that everything they know that gave them such knowledge over other races, they gained from Prothean relics on their home planet. And the top levels of the Asari government hid this information from the rest of the galaxy while hypocritically enacting laws making it illegal for anyone else to use such Prothean relics. And the leadership's desire to hide these truths from the rest of the galaxy caused them to delay anyone from coming to their homeworld Thessia even as the Reapers were bearing down on them. By the time they allow Shepard to go, the planet is already a lost cause. By the end of the war, the Asari's homeworld has probably suffered the most aside from maybe Earth. And from conversations with Javik, it's implied the Protheans were like this, too, though Javik himself argues that he is not representative of his entire species, being a carefully selected soldier who lived during the fall of the Prothean empire.
  • In World of Warcraft, there are five types of elf (Night, Blood, High, as well as Nightborne and Void), all of which clearly believe themselves awesome and superior but are blatantly flawed just like all other Warcraft races: elves are prone to Fantastic Racism, Bloods get themselves into deep trouble experimenting with magic, while Night Elfs won't help the other races against global threats until it's absolutely necessary (which of course blows up in their faces after a while).
  • Both played straight and subverted in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura where the all-nature and magic elven society is falling to the rampant industrialism of humans, gnomes and dwarves. This brought to a separation of the elves in two branches: light and dark. Light elves are comparably decent – but still quite jerkass – folks who are content to let the other people live their own lives. The Dark ones are convinced of the innate superiority of elvenkind and despise all the other races as lesser. The fact that both branches are mostly going deeper and deeper into wilderness, leaving place for industrialism of other races makes them an almost literal local version of Magical Native American.
  • Battle for Wesnoth. Both humans and elves have an archer unit and each type levels up through different promotional classes. The description for the highest-level elven archer is a three-paragraph long love letter about how they can shoot birds in the eye while blindfolded (or something similar); the description for the highest-level human archer just says that they're pretty good for a human, and then goes on for another paragraph about how much better elves are. Of course, as the game is open-source and fan-made, many of the campaigns are a little less elf-friendly... about half of them include a "sticking it to the elves" mission, just for the sake of doing so.
  • The Elder Scrolls contains many examples of this, with its many races of Mer (Elves). Each race of Mer certainly seems to believe it about themselves, but as shown time and time again, they are just as flawed as the races of Men they despise so much. To note specific examples:
    • The Altmer (High Elves) take the cake as the haughtiest culture in Tamriel. They are indeed responsible for much of Tamriel's art, science, philosophy, language, and religion, and (while there are exceptions) they have no issue letting the other races know just how superior they believe they are. They are the direct descendants of the Aldmer (First Elves) and consider the other races of Mer as a result of "degeneration" over the ages. (And don't even bother trying to bring up the races of Men...) Their religious beliefs state that they are the true descendants of the Aedra, and the 4th Era ascension of the Thalmor into positions of leadership within the Aldmeri Dominion has only exacerbated their beliefs of superiority. The other races react to this belief in a predictable fashion, and often do argue with them, ranging between general disagreement and contempt (the majority of people, including quite a few of their fellow Altmer) to outright open conflict (the Cyrodiilic Empire and the Stormcloaks of Skyrim). The Thalmor play up the ancient Aldmeri belief that Mundus (the mortal world) is a horrible, forsaken prison and that the creators of it did so out of malice. Thus, they act to destroy the world, believing it will return their divine spirits to a state of pre-creation divinity.
    • The Dunmer (Dark Elves) split off from the Aldmer over religious differences thousands of years ago, and have spent much of the time since as an extremely xenophobic race who hated outlanders within their homeland of Morrowind but had no issue with raiding other provinces (particularly Black Marsh and Elsweyr) for slaves. The corrupt Tribunal Temple did nothing but reinforce the cultural superiority of the Dunmer while hypocrisy was rampant. Following the events of Morrowind, the Oblivion Crisis, the Red Year, and the Argonian invasion, they've at least learned a little humility.
    • The Bosmer (Wood Elves) actually tend to be very curious and are more an inversion of this trope, as they tend to cause more trouble than the human races do by sticking their noses into other people's business. Notably, it is believed that they have some human ancestry, leading to them being a little less alien than some of the other races of Mer from a human perspective.
    • The extinct Dwemer (Deep Elves or "Dwarves") were an industrious, highly intelligent, and extremely technologically advanced people, but were also known to be cruel, arrogant, and dogmatic. Contemporary accounts describe them as "unfathomable" and "unknowable," with truly alien belief systems unlike anyone else in Tamriel. It's said that even the dullest of their kind was still a genius compared to a clever man. They went so far as to try and make themselves Gods, and managed to vanish completely, the whole race. Now all that is left are their machines and ruins, picked clean by centuries of looters.
  • The Fae in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning more accurately play this role than the actual elves of the setting though for the most part this is subverted as you can argue with and even choose to subvert the culture and/or lives of those fae or elves who put on airs. The leaders of the Fae such as High King Titarion and Prince Cydan avert this by acknowledging that the Fae are in their twilight and show respect towards mortals.
    • The Gnomes take this even further than the Fae. Most Gnomes in the game preach on and on about Gnomes being the paragons of reason and logic in the world. Templar Octienne in particular is pretty arrogant which makes the end of the boss battle with him — using Fate to bash him through a window — extremely satisfying.
  • At one point in Tales of Phantasia, the party comes across a Hidden Elf Village. The leader immediately begins ranting in their faces about how "Elves are superior" and Humans Are the Real Monsters, as well as chastising them for having a half-elf (Arche) in their party. The party essentially sits there and takes it, and never actually tries to rebuke him.
    • At first. Later, when they rant about how Half-Elves are unfit to live in their village due to their destructive "human" ways, Cless chews them out by pointing out Half-Elves only develop human values because elves ban them from their Hidden Elf Village.
  • In StarCraft, given the nature of the Protoss as Scary Dogmatic Aliens with very advanced technology, Terrans try to not get in trouble with them. This makes Raynor being the exception much more significant – it does not matter if it's an Executor that has just arrived with her fleet to burn a planet downnote , or a member of the Judicator Caste that ruled Aiur note  – he will call them out of it. Raynor's case is justified, however, in that he was forced to help two Protoss forces in Char due to Kerrigan leaving them stranded there – by the time Aldaris arrives, Raynor was already used to Zeratul and Tassadar and saw Protoss more like equals.
  • In Prophesy of Pendor, the Noldor Elves are an extremely arrogant people to say the least, and most of them by the start of the game think the only way to deal with the human problem is to Kill 'Em All. Befriending the Noldor is a challenging victory condition, as you start with -30 to reputation with them by default. Fluff text talks about how most human soldiers dread fighting the Noldor and would consider five-to-one bad odds, as they have magically enchanted bows and can shoot further and more accurately than any human archer. The Noldor really are every stereotype of elves being stuck-up, superior jerkwads.
  • The Lunarians of Touhou Project believe that "Impurity" is the source of mortality and death, and so they migrated to the Moon in ages past, untouched by death as it was, and formed a society there based around the concept of Purity. All of this would sound crazy if it wasn't for the fact that they were right, and they actually became immortal super-beings by separating themselves from death and mortality. Unfortunately, even though they are correct about the fact that all things from the Earth are inherently impure, they're still outrageously elitist and xenophobic jerks about it, so Earthborn characters generally talk about the Lunarians as a bunch of obnoxious lunatics.
    • It's also shown (mostly in the official manga) that being right about their personal philosophy and having something to flaunt are two different things. Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs when they come into conflict with earthborn Youkai again and their long period of fanatic isolationism lets Yukari play them for fools.

  • The Order of the Stick. Try arguing with Vaarsuvius. In On the Origin of PCs, Haley basically smacked V on top of the head after one too many "And the problem with that would be...?" replies to her reasons why elves can't be allowed to be inherently superior to the other races.
  • The elves in 8-Bit Theater parody this aspect of elves, making them so obsessed with their own superiority that they believe all other races, and even some of the gods, exist as leftover genetic material that wasn't good enough for elves. This may also go some way towards explaining why they're on technological par with humans in spite of a 9,000-year head start. Maybe Fighter wasn't the one who needed the trial of sloth.

    Another way they parodied this trope was by having being human be illegal in the elven lands and if you bother asking why or pointing out how unfair and stupid that law is, then you'd better have an argument about round ears being better than pointy ones or they won't take your claim/question seriously.
  • Most elves in Sluggy Freelance avoid this trope, being more on the cookie and/or toy making side of the elf spectrum. However, the "Years of Yarncraft" storyline does reference elves as "mythological hotties who wouldn't give humanity the time of day."
  • In Errant Story, the elves' belief in their own superiority has led to multiple instances of genocide. Considering the trolls to be flawed and mistaken creations of their gods, they made a pretty good effort at exterminating them but did not succeed. They nearly did the same thing to humans before deciding to instead "uplift" the humans by using them as servants. Then after a few human–elf hybrids went violently insane they decided to kill all half-elves. This backfired as the resulting racial and civil war nearly exterminated the elves and they spent the next thousand years hiding from the rest of the world in an underground city.
  • Deconstructed by the fae (drow, dark elves, light elves, etc.) of Drowtales who love to think of themselves as such, and while it is true that they possess Game-Breaker powers that significantly put them above the humans, dwarves and orcs of the setting, they're also responsible for turning the surface into the Hell-hole it is thanks to their screwing around with demonic magic. Through the story, it becomes increasingly obvious that the fae rule through brute force and that they really aren't that much better than the "savage" humans and orcs.
  • Existential Comics: You most certainly can when you are Foucault, Chomsky, and Fanon. Chomsky, in a parody of his usual style of criticizing America's foreign policy, notes how in a poll conducted (by Sindar no less) the greatest threat to Middle-Earth's peace in the eyes of Hobbits, Dwarves, Humans, Trolls, Orcs was the Elves.
  • In place of Elves, The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! has the Nemesites, an alien empire that has legally owned the Earth since before humanity evolved, but considers us wildlife and generally ignores us. Having made a few friends on Earth, Princess Voluptua has become fond of us and wants the Empire to do right by us, but even she tends to talk about humans in a patronizing manner, calling us "little critters" and the like. Jean is always quick to tell her where to stick that kind of talk.

    Web Original 
  • Hilariously subverted in Tales of MU. The elves are immortal, wise, good at EVERYTHING and generally peaceful, but also arrogant as all get out and often absolutely batshit insane, especially when it comes to sexual matters (it is considered fairly rational elven behavior for a young elf to castrate the lover of a rival just to spite them, for example). They resent the weariness of their too-perfect lives and usually end up killing themselves. The major half-elf character in the story hates her heritage and everything to do with it.
    • It should be noted with Steff that she views herself as being an ugly talentless clod who looks about as much like a real woman (she's trans) as Sailor Bubba does, while Mack and her friends all see her as impossibly graceful and artistically talented and it takes Mack and several other characters a long time to actually figure out that Steff isn't biologically female. This is explicitly stated to be caused by Steff being raised by elves, by whose standards she IS a clumsy talentless drag queen.
    • It should also be noted that most elves we see in the series are in the elven equivalent to their twenties, which are noted as being abnormally sociopathic in their dealings with everyone.
    • The main character Mackenzie Blaise has this viewpoint about some of her friends (Dee and Amaranth), seeing them as being inherently purer because of their species (dark elf and nymph, in this case), although that probably has something to do with how Mack thinks of herself as being inherently corrupted because of her half-demon heritage (which has some support in the story). Whether or not the reader is supposed to feel that any one race is supposed to be inherently better than others is hard to tell—we certainly see faults with all of them as the story goes on.
    • Merfolk in the MUniverse feel themselves to be inherently superior to all land species, although they don't really advertise this. However, as Mack discovers, it is rather hard to argue with them about this belief, as they on principle dismiss arguments from prey. To them, any land creature in water is food and no longer has a right to be considered a sentient being.
  • The transapients of Orion's Arm aren't elves, per se, but they are better than you and quite aware of it. In fact, the only reason you'd ever argue with them would be because they want you to. This is actually an explicit rule of the setting: any transapient of a higher tier is superior to an intelligence of a lower tier, end of discussion. Not in a moral sense (there are plenty of examples of very amoral or even evil transapients), but intelligence-wise. The only way to get on their level is to become a transapient yourself.
  • Played straight when several elves explain to the main characters of MDWS about how superior they are compared to humans. Then immediately subverted when the tank of the group punches the leader in the face while saying "But we're meaner".
  • In Mahu in "Second Chance" several of the galaxy's races and empires think themselves superior to everybody else. The thadrakos, almost elf-like in their appearance, share this trait too except when dealing with humans, who they see as valuable allies and friends. The human Commonwealth on the other hand is not so comfortable with the thadrakos use of slaves, their expanding realm...or the fact that they are cannibals.
  • Discouraged in a Springhole post on elitism. It says that portraying "higher" beings (such as eleves) as always being right or more noble than humans is likely to make those characters come off as pretentious jerks.

    Western Animation 
  • This, and the character types associated with it, are deconstructed with Aresia in Justice League. Stories like Amazons Attack! notwithstanding, the Amazons are typically portrayed as a superior people, with superior morality, strength, and wisdom to those of "man's world." The bulk of Amazons act like this: dismissive of non-Amazons and appealing to man's world's obvious inferiority when anyone challenges them on it. Wonder Woman, on the other hand, tends more towards "yeah, they're inferior, but it's our duty to protect them from themselves." After a few arcs where both of these are called out, Aresia — a non-Amazon who's been raised under the Amazons' Can't Argue With Elves mentality, takes it to its logical conclusion and attempts to kill all men on the planet and taking this stance with everyone who tried to stop her — even Wonder Woman herself.
    • Even WW is Not So Above It All sometimes; a particularly infamous example is an incident where she is confronted by an angry mob, the leader of which is an angry heavyset man holding an effigy of her, calling her out for her callous behavior towards the collateral damage supers like her can inflict. Wonder Woman's response? Rope the man with her Lasso of Truth so that he spills about secretly being a crossdresser, publicly humiliating him and causing the crowd to disperse. While the man was using some rather crass language to describe WW, his point about her carelessness towards innocents was nonetheless valid but Wonder Woman is depicted as being in the right.
  • A human example occurs in Doug in the form of Chalky Studebaker. He's The Ace of Bluffington Jr. High, and in one episode, it's discovered that he and Doug both got identical answers on a test. Everyone automatically assumes that Chalky is incapable of cheating, because he's so perfect and outstanding, so Doug naturally must have copied him — except Doug didn't. Doug spends the rest of the episode trying to track Chalky down to talk to him, and when he finally confronts him, Chalky admits that he did cheat — he's so busy trying to be good at everything that he didn't have time to study. It also shows us where this attitude came from —his father. Thankfully, Chalky owns up to his mistake and agrees to do a retest, even if it means missing an important football game, so it's ultimately a deconstruction of the trope.


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Alternative Title(s): Cant Argue With An Elf



When writing Fantasy Races, make sure that your elves are perfect in every way and clearly know it.

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