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Enslaved Elves

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The hardest lesson for any elf to learn is humility. It takes a giant to teach that.

"Such a proud race, reduced to servitude. Sometimes even Gods have a sense of humour."
Gnarl (passing comment on the elves being enslaved by the dwarves), Overlord I

A once-proud and glorious race has fallen. Now, they live in squalor and slavery with few traces of their ancient culture remaining. The only ones that escaped this fate did so by dying or being killed. Perhaps they will rediscover their old pride and power, for better or for worse...

This trope only applies if there's some proof that the race used to be a proud and noble one, before their 'fall'. If a universe's elves (though not always elves, most are however) have always been nomadic tribes of pointy-eared barbarian bowmen, it doesn't count for this trope, no matter how badly they're oppressed and see the violence Inherent in the System.

A subtrope of Screw You, Elves! and could be considered meta-revenge against Can't Argue with Elves. It can overlap with Slave Race.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Drifters: The elves were one of many races that were enslaved by the human supremacist nation known as the Orte Empire. Once a proud people, acclaimed for their archery and longevity, they were reduced to serfs. To prevent them from rebelling, the humans forbade them from archery and entering the forests. In addition, the human soldiers periodically took their women during the elvish breeding seasons and raped them.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion: The Incubators, who had farmed humanity for emotional energy, guided our evolution to their liking and gotten away with everything in the series finally get theirs when Homura ascends to demonhood. In order to keep the curses spread over the world under control, Homura enslaves them and uses them as a repository for the world's dark magic, so Madoka doesn't have to.
  • This is what happens with both Alleyne (a pure Forest Elf) and her student Nowa (a half-elf) in Queen's Blade Rebellion: Alleyne's village is destroyed by the Swamp Witch and her army, leaving Alleyne as the lone survivor, and being cursed with not being able to leave the forest, and Nowa is enslaved by Dogura, one of the Witch's henchmen later on, and tortured to almost madness.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This is the central point of the original Planet of the Apes and even stronger in its remake — the ruling race of humans have fallen, with apes as the dominant species, treating humans as wild vermin, exotic game, and valuable specimens for zoos and laboratories.

  • In the Ancient Dreams series, ten thousand years ago the elves were once part of one great kingdom known as Everium. However, after an event known as the Godrage, in which the gods battle against each other, it sundered the kingdom into two. The elves lost much in the cataclysm and allowed the human kingdom of Kelvanis to rise. The humans from Kelvanis actively send raids capturing common elves and even powerful priestesses and royals. This is all due to a deal they made with a demon that allows them to create slave brands that enslave the wearer to their will. These brands are custom made and can even brainwash the slave or even act as contraceptives and dampen the elf's magic. (For example: Silver Brands: For royalty. Pink Brands: For Courtesans. Red Brands: For Warriors. Gold Brands: Priests. Black Brands: Commoners. Hell, they even enslaved the elven goddess, turning her into the Goddess in Chains as their national deity.)
  • In Michael Moorcock's Swords Trilogy, the Nhadragh race was once highly advanced in both magic and culture. By the time of the stories, they had declined to the point that they were conquered and used as slaves by the Mabden (humans).
  • In The Death Gate Cycle, the dwarves of the World of Air, Arianus, have devolved severely, losing their pride, and even their names. Calling themselves 'Gegs', they serve as peaceful factory-workers on the machine-filled island that is their home, worshiping visiting elves like Gods...
  • The elves from the Deverry series once lived in grand cities, but after their cities' destruction, they have been reduced to nomadic tribes in the grasslands of the Westland. They have lost much of their lore and are explicitly noted to have a shorter lifespan than their ancestors.
  • In Elf Tensei Kara No Cheat Kenkokuki, elves once were skilled archers and had a rich culture. Their skill with the bow easily defeated the humans that surrounded their territory, until the human forged steel armor and overwhelmed the elves with sheer numbers. The humans enslaved the elves with collars that dampen their magic and forced them to be farmers. In addition the elves were treated as livestock, their hearts, which became powerful magic stones were harvested.
  • The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction ran a story, An Elvish Sword of Great Antiquity in which elves had been enslaved for a very long time, with obvious parallels with the enslavement of African-Americans and white attitudes towards them.
  • The House Elves from the Harry Potter series are a race of House Fey that do are willing slaves of wizards. Most of them don't want to be freed and Hermione even founds a charity devoted to releasing them.
  • Helliconia: Phagors. Helliconia Spring shows them in their glory days; the next book, Helliconia Summer, takes place centuries later, and by then phagors have been subjugated as slaves.
  • Happens in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium to any Noldor (High Elves) captured by Orcs in the First Age, though it's barely touched upon in the 1977 The Silmarillion; The History of Middle-earth and The Children of Húrin give more details. The Noldor certainly fit the "proud" and "glorious" description; Orcs on the other hand are sadistic bastards who like torturing people for fun. The good news is that those who survived were eventually freed when the Valar pwned Morgoth.
    • Gwindor was a Noldorin lord enslaved by the Dark Lord Morgoth and forced to work in the forges of Angband for 17 years before he escaped.
    • One thing that is touched on in The Silmarillion, though it's stated to be an unproven legend: Morgoth took some of the firstborn Elves and tortured, mutated, and corrupted them for centuries until they became the first Orcs!
    • In the wider canon of Tolkien writings, including letters and unpublished notes, it appears that Elves who cannot bear to leave Middle-Earth at the end of the Third Age are doomed to fade and dwindle, their powers and appearance undergoing a sort of decaying senescence until all you are left with are the pixies and fairies of folklore - rather silly ineffectual things, or else malicious sprites who dimly remember what they were. Here and there a Titania and an Oberon who may be the very last Elves in Middle-Earth who remember what they once were and the greatness they fell from. The remnant of Elves who linger on into our world are slaves - to a land they cannot bear to depart from, but which has less and less of a place for them.
  • The Sithi from the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series effectively ruled the entire continent of Osten Ard until the humans came and warred upon them. The few remaining Sithi have isolated themselves from the rest of the world, and though they are not slaves, their race is a shadow of its former glory. The Big Bad of the series is a former Sithi prince who died in a war with the humans and now wishes to return to life.
  • Kugane Maruyama's Overlord:
    • The slavery of elves is prevalent. The Slane Theocracy, a human supremacist nation, is at war with the Elf Country due to the Elf King kidnapping one of their treasured warriors and raping her; while the Slane Theocracy was already a human supremacist nation before this incident, it was here that the line was crossed into all-out war. Elves are thus captured and sold as slaves throughout the human empires. To mark them as slaves, human slavers cut the tips of their ears.
    • The Nazarick raiders arc featured a particularly colossal Asshole Victim whose fighting style consists of attacking while making his elven sex slaves (which he regularly rapes for good measure and replaces when they're dead, to the distaste of other slavers due to how expensive elves are) cast buffing magic on him. So when he runs into an enemy he has no hope against (Hamusuke the giant hamster, who cuts off his hands), he demands that they heal him, and they kick him to death before he can bleed out. Unfortunately, as karmic and cathartic as his death was, he was pretty much the only unsympathetic human in that arc. Ainz agrees to spare the elves since they did not trespass into Nazarick willingly, has their clipped ears healed and keeps them around to serve fellow elves Aura and Mare, which all things considered is a massive step up; he later offers to let them return to their homeland, but the elves reply that they wish to stay, having grown accustomed to their new life and acknowledging that Nazarick is probably the safest place in the world.
  • Played with in The Riyria Revelations. The Elves are a beaten down, oppressed people treated like dirt almost everywhere in the humans' kingdoms (Dwarves are only marginally better off) where the dominant religion holds that humans are the Master Race. Except that these elves are only elf-blooded humans. Full-blooded elves can live for thousands of years and control a powerful empire, and the elf Big Bad has engineered the rise of the Corrupt Church and the oppression of the nonhuman races as part of a centuries-long plan to ultimately have the elves go to war with the humans as soon as a Binding Ancient Treaty is no longer in effect, conquer them, and then have himself placed on the elven throne, ruling most of the known world.
  • The Nonmen from R. Scott Bakker's Second Apocalypse series are vaguely elf-like. They have been reduced to madness and their civilization shattered after they received immortality and suffered a Gendercide.
  • In Skeleton Knight in Another World by HAKARI Enki, elves face severe prejudice due to their powerful magic and longevity. The elves have based themselves in a nation called the Great Canada Forest, which was founded by a member from Earth. The surrounding human nations have faiths that hold elves as those that stole magic from the gods or preach human supremacy. Though jealous of their magic, humans will try to capture elves to sell as slaves. Females are usually sold as sex slaves to nobles, while the males are forced to impregnate noblewomen to produce children capable of magic. Enslaved elves wear Collars of Subjugation to prevent them from turning on their masters.
  • In The Stone Dance of the Chameleon the sartlar, who are considered little more than animals and have been entirely enslaved, turn out to be none other than the legendary Quyans.
  • In The Witcher (at least in the books), the Aen Seidhe Elves were once a noble and proud race, before humans came along and gradually overtook them and their civilization through faster birth rates, warfare and learning their magic, with the Aen Seidhe attempting to make peace and coexist with them as they settled the land. At the time of the books, humans threaten them, with parallels to European oppression of Native Americans in Real Life. In the last book we can see the inverse regarding the proud Aen Elle, another species of elf that journeyed to another dimension and who were cold blooded enough to avoid the fate of the Aen Seidhe on the Continent. Instead of attempting to coexist with the humans of this dimension and losing their civilization, they ruthlessly slaughtered and enslaved all the native humans there and conquered the world instead, leaving mountains of their bones behind. They became the core riders of the Wild Hunt, plundering worlds across the multiverse, and periodically take human slaves as trophies.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Defiance, the dwarf-like Liberata were once a race of greedy, powerful bankers. When the Votan homeworlds fell apart and everyone was forced to migrate to Earth, the Liberata lost all their wealth and power, and most of them are now stuck as domestic workers.
  • Doctor Who. In "Warrior's Gate", the Tharils once used their ability to navigate the time winds to establish a Galactic Superpower and enslave many races. By the time the Doctor encounters them, they're being forced to work as slaves on pirate vessels, who use their abilities to safely navigate spacecraft. The Doctor and Romana work to liberate them, having judged that their species has suffered enough for their past crimes.
  • The Delvians of Farscape, sentient and mobile humanoid plants with a rich religious tradition, and the most elf-like kind of alien to appear regulary, have been subjugated by the Peacekeepers.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power:
    • Adar's Orcs are former Elves from Beleriand, captured, tortured and mutated by Morgoth into what would become the Moriondor, the first Orcs.
    • Arondir, Revion and Medhor are temporary enslaved by the Orcs. Only Arondir makes out alive, and that only because Adar set him free to go and warn the Southlanders to submit and swear allegiance to him.
  • In Star Trek, in the evil alternate universe the Vulcans are slaves of the Federation's evil counterpart the Terran Empire.
    • According to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, this didn't last, with Spock becoming Emperor and all... Although that caused the entire Terran Empire to become slaves to the Cardassian-Klingon alliance (La Résistance rebuilt the empire by 33 years after Deep Space 9, according to Star Trek Online.)
    • The Bajorans were capable of stellar flight while humans were still learning to make fire, but are now an impoverished race that was sent back to almost an agrarian level by a brutal occupation by the Cardassian Union. Not that the Cardassians had a very far way to push them back. The Bajorans were so dependent upon The Prophets and the Orbs that their civilization had been essentially stagnant for 10,000 years. They had colonized moons in their star system and had some technology on par with The Federation's, but their culture was still almost entirely farmers artisans and religious leaders. Making them almost a textbook example of Low Culture, High Tech. It's why the Cardassians looked down on them so much and conquered them so easily.

  • In The Gamer's Alliance, the Sarquil use dark-skinned desert elves, whom they have conquered in various wars, as slaves. The desert elves long for the freedom which the other elven cultures in the world have but are unable to do anything because even the Grand Alliance isn't willing to risk angering their much needed Sarquil allies by demanding the desert elves' freedom.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the updated adaptation of the original Dragonlance modules produced for TSR's 25th anniversary, the players can get some additional insight into what the evil green dragon Cyan Bloodbane really wants when he corrupts the elven kingdom of Silvanesti and turns it into a twisted nightmare. The heroes can meet a brood of illusionary green dragons who are being tended to by their elven slaves. The oldest dragon claims that Cyan is converting the forest back to the way it used to be when the green dragons ruled over it, before the elves rebelled and drove the dragons away. Now the dragons are returning things back to the "rightful" order of things.
    • The Silvanesti are pretty much a case study in using this trope as a form of Break the Haughty to the point of being a decades-long Humiliation Conga: originally a textbook example of the kind of arrogant, elitist, racist jerks you can't argue with elves tend to be portrayed as, they got successively:
      • Invaded by the Dragonarmies;
      • Had their land turned into a nightmare realm (see above) when their king used the Green Dragonorb to try and repel said Dragonarmies, most of them forced into exile half a continent away;
      • Retake their homeland and raise a great magical barrier so as to become an impenetrable Hidden Elf Village, only to find out later that the barrier drains the life-force and longevity of surrounding living beings ans anyone inside, thus potentially dooming them all to a slow death;
      • Have barrier subsequently destroyed by the Knights of Takhisis, who then conquer and enslave them;
      • And finally, the Knights of Takhisis are driven out... by the Minotaurs, who take the place for themselves and kick out anyone they don't need as slaves. The current time of the Dragonlance setting has the largest unenslaved group of Silvanesti shacking up in a desert, forced to reintegrate with their "lesser" Qualinesti cousins (who are also in dire straits), and generally not having a good time of it.
  • This is one of the hallmarks of the Dark Sun campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons. Overuse of magic has turned the world into a desert wasteland, leaving many of the races as pale shadows of their former selves (think Bronze-Age Mad Max). Dwarves no longer have their own lands and cities but do reasonably well among humans. Elves are nomads and raiders. Halflings are savage cannibals. Gnomes are extinct. (So are most of the savage races, like orcs, goblins, kobolds, ogres, lizard men, and trolls, all exterminated in the Cleansing Wars by the sorcerer king Rajaat.)
  • Exalted: Once, the Jadeborn were artificers without peer, every one "born" a genius inventor. When their creator Autochthon, the Great Maker, helped the Exalted and gods overthrow the other Primordials, the Jadeborn armed the Exalted with innumerable wonders and incredible artifact weapons. Then, shortly after being installed as the rulers of the world, the Solar Exalted decided to destroy the Jadeborn. They convinced Sol, the new king of Heaven, that the Jadeborn were somehow a threat to humanity. He gave Autochthon an ultimatum: geas the Jadeborn into weakness and servitude, or the Exalted would exterminate them all.

    Now the vast majority of Jadeborn are dull, unimaginative worker- or warrior-caste clods with little magic, imprisoned under the Pole of Earth, enslaved by the Exalted and forced to fight a Forever War against underground Eldritch Abominations. Their world-spanning civilization is gone, their ancient culture almost completely extinct. The few who can comprehend what has happened are understandably quite bitter about it.
  • Legend of the Five Rings has several examples:
    • Trolls were one of the original five races who created the mortal world out of chaos. After the fall of the other original races, however, they declined and were conquered and enslaved by first the ogres, then the forces of Fu Leng. There are no more Trolls who remember what they used to be.
    • The Ogres may also qualify, since their civilization eventually fell and almost all remaining ogres are slaves of Fu Leng.
    • The Zokujin, another one of the original five races, may also qualify, given that a number of their people have been enslaved by the Lion Clan and forced to work the mines. There are many free Zokujin tribes, however, and even the enslaved ones could escape if they really wanted to.
  • In the Brazilian fantasy setting Tormenta, the elves were enslaved by minotaurs after their goddess accepted being enslaved by the minotaur god in exchange for protection. They got freed after the minotaur god - also a god of slavery in general and sex slavery in particular - got killed by the god of the emonymous Tormenta, an Eldritch Abomination tempest.
  • Warhammer: The Giants were once a powerful race of "Sky-Titans" living in mansions on the highest mountains of the world until the migrating Ogres massacred and ate most of them. The few survivors fled and, their population dwindling, they became inbred, stunted and stupid (although they are still humongous) and are often enslaved by Ogres, Chaos forces, or Orcs and Goblins.
  • Wicked Fantasy: Humans have taken to enslaving elves through the use of iron largely to keep them as sex slaves, despite knowing that once an elf has been bound with iron, it will die within at most six and a half to ten years.

    Video Games 
  • In Divinity: Original Sin II, the elven homeland was destroyed by the divine (by Fog of Doom deployed via tricking Ifan), and many of their numbers were taken as slaves by the ancient empire. One of the selectable origins for your character (Sebille, specifically) is a former slave who escaped from this, and now seeks to kill her master, which would render her completely free of slavery, by ensuring no one can command her via her slave scar ever again.
  • In Dragon Age, the Elves were once an advanced culture, and possessed immortality... then humans showed up, and everything went straight to hell.
    • Though the facts of their culture prior to their enslavement are left intentionally vague, as most of their records and history were lost in the process. In particular, no one is quite sure if the whole 'immortality' thing is a fact, an exaggeration, or an outright myth. The only long-lived elf you meet in the game is thought to have regained their ancient immortality, but is actually tied to a magical curse that is keeping him alive. Similarly, it's said that Dalish elves have longer lifespans than elves who live among humans, but considering your lot in life when you're an elf among humans, there could be several different reasons for that.
    • The Masked Empire finally reveals secrets of the ancient elves (in fact, the eponymous empire can refer to either the ancient elven empire of Arlathan or the modern-day human empire of Orlais), and it turns out that only noble elves were outright immortal, and then only because of an abused elven underclass forced into servitude.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition reveals ancient elven civilization to have not been much better than the Tevinter Imperium, complete with enslavement of other elves. Their civilization was also destroyed by civil war, and not by invading humans as was believed, though the humans did capitalize on said civil war by enslaving the surviving elves. In short, basically everything anyone (including the Dalish) thought they knew about elven history was wrong.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • In the backstory, in a case of Elves enslaving Elves, the Falmer (Snow Elves) were once slaves of the Dwemer (Deep Elves or "Dwarves"), until the Dwemer all mysteriously disappeared. As of Skyrim, they've devolved into a non-sentient species that inhabits Dwemer ruins and attacks any humanoid that they find.
    • Downplayed in that while it may not be full blown slavery, the Bosmer (Wood Elves) are treated as second-class citizens to the Altmer under the Aldmeri Dominion. Things became even worse when the extremist Thalmor rose to power, as they even treat other Altmer as beneath them if those Altmer do not subscribe to the beliefs of the Thalmor.
    • The Orsimer, commonly known as the Orcs (which are a type of elf in this setting), are an entire species of Iron Butt Monkeys. The vast majority of Orcs live within other cultures, making themselves useful to their host peoples in servitude (usually as mercenaries and blacksmiths). Only a handful of Orcs independently live in destitute, isolated strongholds scattered throughout Tamriel - mostly in Skyrim and High Rock - akin to Native American reservations. The Orcs' attempts to create their own nation in Orsinium have always ultimately been destroyed by their rival Bretons and/or Redguards.
    • The Ayleids, or Wild Elves, gradually experienced this when their civilization was overthrown by the Alessian slave revolt. Though the Ayleids who sided with Alessia survived the revolt and the wrath of Pelinal, the subsequent Empire of Cyrodiil was so hostile to them (due to the centuries of abuse humans had suffered) that their culture eventually crashed and many Ayleids either were turned into second-class citizens, slaughtered by anti-elf fanatics, emigrated to High Rock, or faded into the wilderness, hence their eventual renaming as the "Wild Elves."
    • This was flipped onto the Dunmer of Morrowind after the eruption of the Red Mountain. The Dunmer had a practice of enslaving the Khajiit and Argonians (as well as other unfortunate peoples) and had carried out this practice for so long that keeping the institution was one of the terms of Morrowind joining Tiber Septim's Empire, which otherwise banned the practice. When the Oblivion Crisis happened and Red Mountain erupted, devastating the Dunmer lands, the Argonians struck back, invading the Morrowind and slaughtering or scattering the weakened Dark Elves. Now the Dunmer civilization is but a shadow of its former self, even after they've started retaking their ruined lands.
  • In the backstory of Escape Velocity Nova, the Vell-os telepaths were at war for fifty years with the Colonial Council before the Vell-os surrendered to stop the bloodshed. The ensuing Carthaginian peace saw the Vell-os enslaved and their worlds blasted into space debris.
  • The Vortigaunts from the Half-Life series are race of wise telepaths and are generally more highly evolved than humans. They are first encountered as group of slaves under the mind control of another alien. By Half-Life 2, when they are freed, they join forces with humanity and regain their old culture. Their telepathic abilities make them valuable allies, as does their ability to shoot lightning.
  • In Overlord, as well as its sequel, the elves are enslaved. In the first game, they had lost a war with the Dwarves, and most of them were killed, haunting the ruins of their old palaces as ghosts, while the survivors were forced to slave away in the dwarven mines. Depending on your choices, you could condemn the entire race to oblivion, by selling away the lives of the last remaining elf women, for a bit pile of gold...
    • And yet, regardless of which choice you make, there are more elves appearing in the sequel — this time, they're enslaved by the anti-magic Imperium, forced to work in the empire's tourist-trap resorts. They've also got a hidden, underground city, but you'll take care of that minor problem during the course of the game, as well as crushing an uprising of the enslaved elves in the resort-city after you pillage and conquer it.

  • In Linburger, the Cyll used to be a highly advanced race with immortality and magic. Then something happened. Nobody in-universe is quite sure what went wrong. But now the Cyll are second class citizens, reduced to poverty and slums. They're no longer immortal, and so far they haven't shown an ability to do magic. The current generation doesn't even care about their past.
  • Suitor Armor: The formerly magnificent Fae empire was once ruled by the tyrannical Monarchs, whose overwhelming magical powers were feared by all, while 'elf' refers to any magic-less faerie. The humans responded to a few Monarch 'pranks' by slaughtering the faeries as a whole, mutilating the survivors to turn them all into elves, and forcing them to work as peasant slaves.

    Western Animation 
  • ThunderCats (2011): The home of the cat race, Thundera, is destroyed in the second episode, and towards the end of the first season we see that the surviving cats have been enslaved by the rats to work in the mines.


Video Example(s):


Do Whatever You Wish With Him

Arc and Ariane free some elf slave girls and allow them to have their revenge against the one who enslaved them.

How well does it match the trope?

4.92 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / DoWithHimAsYouWill

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