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Dehumanizing Insult

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"No one asked your opinion... you filthy, little Mudblood."

When insulting someone, particularly someone of a different race/class/state of living, it's common to call them a subperson rather than just accuse them of having a negative trait like being dumb. In many cases, the two will overlap, but it's not always done in such a way.

Supertrope of Nicknaming the Enemy and And Zoidberg. Sub trope to Dehumanization. See Call a Human a "Meatbag" for a common variant of robot/energy being on organic variant, or Fantastic Slur when the target of the insult is a sentient nonhuman humanoid. See also "It" Is Dehumanizing and You Monster!.

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Examples

Anime & Manga

  • Dragon Ball Z: Frieza is quite blatantly racist towards the Saiyans, often mockingly call them apes, monkeys, and simians.
  • In Kill la Kill, Satsuki repeatedly refers to the common students at her school as "pigs in human clothing". Additionally, Nonon is fond of calling Sanageyama a "wild monkey".
  • In One Piece, after seeing what Crocodile has done during the "Alabasta" arc, Zoro bluntly says, "The term 'not-human' was created to describe scum such as you."
    • "Dog" is also a predominant strong insult towards Marines, especially when they follow "Absolute Justice".
  • In Attack on Titan, Eldians are frequently dehumanized by being called devils, amongst a few other things, although it's not known if this is merely metaphorical or if there are literal implications. Also overlaps with You Monster!.

Comic Books

  • In Runaways, upon meeting Klara Prast for the first time, Xavin refuses to acknowledge her presence and instead chides Karolina for wasting the team's time with a "stray".
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  • In the 2006 revival of The Eternals, Sprite mentions that the Eternals used to call the humans "mayflies" because of their comparatively short lifespans. This is born out later when Zuras chides Thena for bringing her human son to Olympia; he says that she will outlive her son, and thus there's no point keeping him around (that the boy is his grandson doesn't seem to interest him in the least.) She counters that Zuras brought his dog with him, and the dog will die much sooner than her son.
  • In the "Nativity" arc of The Authority, France is attacked by expies of the Howling Commandos. When one of them questions whether it's right to be attacking civilians, the Nick Fury expy remarks that "civilians are civilized. These are French." He goes on to say that he hates the French even more than he hates Mexicans, Asians, and blacks.
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  • In the second volume of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, as the Martian invasion of London continues, Nemo contemplates blowing up the bridges to turn the Thames river into London's moat and stymie the invaders. He considers that the resulting civilian casualties would not be worth worrying about, because they're only English.
  • In the New 52 version of Wonder Woman, Wondy's fellow Amazons call her "clay" behind her back, referencing the fact that she was made of clay.

Fan Works

  • “Dog (of the World Government)”/"Government Pet" are the two worst things anyone can call a Marine in Rerum Danarae, far more than in original One Piece.
    • Which one is actually the worse of both is not clear, as the latter is also a designator for a Marine that rose through the ranks through Government Backing, usually doing the World Government's dirty work (and thus being Absolute Justice followers) while escaping legal consequences.
  • I Will Not Bow series:
    • On multiple occasions in Blazing Revolution and Blazing Generations, whenever Sugou and/or Yamato are mentioned, Kirito's crew tends to describe them as "parasites."
    • In Blazing Generations chapter 54, with Yui and Luna outed as AIs, Madoka demeans them by calling them "robots" and "freaks."

Films - Live-Action

  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Batman throws several of these at Superman during their fight.
    Batman: You're not brave. Men are brave.
    Batman: You were never a god. You were never even a man!
  • Ghostbusters (1984). When Dana Barrett is possessed by Zuul and wants to have sex, she tells Peter Venkman, "Take me now, subcreature."

Literature

  • In Dragon Bones, a woman accuses Ward of being inappropriately interested in "Haverness' cow" - she's talking about Haverness' daughter. (Ward himself has been compared to an ox, but more because of his strength than as insult, making this hilarious in context.)
  • In John Carter of Mars, "calot" (a Barsoomian creature that resembles a mix between a frog and dog) and "ulsio" (a Barsoomian rodent) are sometimes used as insults against people.
  • In the Chronicles of Gor, a common epithet is to call someone a "tarsk" or a "sleen", both of which are animals on that world.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Sandor Clegane's nickname "the Hound" is only partially affectionate. Mostly, it's meant to reflect that the Lannisters only consider him valuable so long as he protects Joffrey. Meanwhile, Samwell Tarly's nickname "Ser Piggy" is definitely meant to dehumanize him, as is Tyrion's nickname "the Imp".
  • In Star Trek: Voyager: The Black Shore, the crew of the Voyager travel to a seemingly friendly planet where the apparent natives have enslaved a race of primates that they call the "neffler". The crew starts to realize that something's wrong when the natives start referring to them as neffler. It turns out "natives" came from somewhere else, and that the "neffler" are some long-extinct species that they previously exploited. They now use the word to describe all those they subjugate.
  • In Honor Harrington, Mesan slaves and ex-slaves refer to Mesa's ruling class and especially Manpower Ultd. as "the scorpions".
  • In Unique, vampires refer to humans as 'kine'. Of note, at one point Ophelia uses the term when talking to Lana and she reflexively snaps back "Don't call them that," because unlike Ophelia who had never moved beyond smugly glorying in her power, she had gone out and made human friends and trained herself to think of them as real people.
  • Victoria has the heroes refer to ethnic gangs, and people who disrespect American history or culture 'orcs.'
  • Harry Potter:
    • As the quote on top of this page shows, mudblood is a dehumanizing insult uttered in the Harry Potter universe. In this universe, there are elitist wizards who believe one's worth can be measured by the amount of wizards in one's family tree. These wizards see Muggles as subhuman and dirty beings. Mudblood is a term they use for wizards with two muggle parents, as they consider these wizards to have impure dirty blood.
    • Another frequently used insult is Half-breed, used for wizards with at least one non-human parent. Though more prejudiced wizards or witches, like Dolores Umbridge, also use this term to refer to creatures who resemble humans, but aren't related to them, like for example Centaurs and Mer-people.
  • In Warrior Cats, solitary feral cats are commonly referred to as 'rogues'. Clan cats think of them as untrustworthy, dishonorable, dirty, and cowardly, and they have lumped all those traits into that single catchall term. When Hollyleaf learns she might have been born a rogue, she is filled with horror at what it implies, namely, that she is really one of those horrible uncivilized creatures her 'mother' told her about.
  • Lilith's Brood: After the End, humanity is divided into those who live and have children with the alien Oankali, and sterile "resisters" who refuse to associate with them. The more unpleasant resisters refer to the first group of humans as the Oankali's "animals".

Live-Action Television

  • 24: Redemption. The Child Soldiers being trained by the season's Big Bad are taught to think of the enemies they're going to kill as "cockroaches".
  • Inverted on Community. Dean Pelton reasons that the players on the Greendale Community College football team have been called animals their whole lives, so he renames the team the Human Beings.
  • In the Mad Men episode "Six Month Leave", Roger Sterling remarks that before Freddy Rumsen was in the Army Signal Corps, he was "in charge of killing people. And by 'people', I mean Germans."
  • Family Ties: "The Harder They Fall," where a Sadist Teacher refers to Steven and Elyse as Amazonian savages ... this after both had punched him in the jaw for insulting them and others in the classroom. During a private meeting with Steven, the teacher also calls Elyse a crude name, although he whispers this in Steven's ear. Beforehand, the teacher was called out by several parents for calling his students cruel names and nicknames.
  • In Supergirl (2015), after aliens start becoming more public, bigoted humans start referring to them as "roaches".
  • In The Gifted, mutants are often called "muties" by anti-mutant bigots.

Video Games

  • In Xenogears, the people of Solaris use the term "lamb" or "land-dweller" to speak about everyone else in the world. Land-dweller is kinda justified, seeing that Solaris is a floating sky city.
  • In BioShock, Rapture's citizens refer to undesirables as "parasites". Burial at Sea even reveals that Rapture's schools teach children about a Right Way/Wrong Way Pair named Ryan the Lion and Peter the Parasite.
  • The Desians in Tales of Symphonia, who are all half-elves (though not all half-elves are Desians), incessantly refer to their enemies as "inferior beings".
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, the Garlean Empire refers to anyone not of the empire, regardless of their race or sapience of it, as a "savage". There's also the beastmen, who are otherwise intelligent but mostly lacking in humanoid attributes so much that Fantastic Racism is very much in effect, even on people not using it to dehumanize them, it's just their overall moniker.
  • In Dragon Age II, the Qunari refer to just about all non-Qunari as bas, which literally translates to "thing".

Western Animation

  • In Steven Universe, an insult used among Gems is "clod" - a chunk of dirt which, by implication, has no mind or form. It's practically become Peridot's Catchphrase at this point.
    • Similarly, "pebble" also seems to be used as an insult, although we only hear it once.
  • Teen Titans featured this trope heavily in the episode "Troq" In it, the Titans meet a muscular metallic alien named Val-Yor and happily introduce themselves. It's only when Starfire steps onto the scene that he says "I see you have a Tamaranian" Val-Yor goes on to ask the Titans for help with a mission of his and soon every one of the Titans is given an Affectionate Nickname by their new companion except for Starfire, whom he begrudgingly refers to as "Troq" Or "Troqie." Cyborg asks what the word "Troq" means just as Starfire leaves to complete her part of the mission. She replies "It means 'nothing'" Having watched her successfully complete her task, Cyborg exclaims "Way to go Troqie!" only for Starfire to become angry. Puzzled, Cyborg reminds her that she said it didn't mean anything. She promptly corrects him and explains that the word "Troq" means "nothing". and that when Val-Yor calls her that, he's saying she's worthless. Obviously, that doesn't sit well with the rest of the team and in the end all Val-Yor has decided is that Starfire must be one of the good Tamaranians.

Real Life

  • Untermensch (German for under man, sub-man, sub-human; plural: Untermenschen) is a term that became infamous when the Nazis used it to describe "inferior people", often referred to as "the masses from the East" - that is, Jews, Romani, and Slavs (including Poles, Serbs, Belarusians, Russians, and Rusyns.)
  • During the Sand Creek massacre, the notoriously racist Col. John Chivington called for his men to kill Cheyenne and Arapahoe women and children, telling them that it wasn't enough to just kill all the men because "nits make lice".
  • When columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. wrote his reaction to Mel Gibson's infamous phone call to his wife where he called her a variety of slurs and said she would deserve it if she got "raped by a pack of niggers," Pitts made the following observation that the N-word was actually not the worst thing Gibson said. "Actually, it's just before that. After all, only animals hunt in packs."
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