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Fantastic Underclass

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Volus: You can't turn your back on these clanless quarians. Thieves, all of them.
Tali: Quarians are only forced to steal when people like you won't let them have real jobs.
Volus: And to think my taxes pay to support you here. Go back to your fleet, clanless.

Fictional societies can take on a wide variety of forms, from the familiar to the utterly alien. However, many adhere at least partly to a hierarchy that usually consists of a ruling class, a middle class (if such a thing exists in this setting), and a working class.

And then you have the Underclass: this level of society is below the working class, often impoverished, unemployed, oppressed and regarded with contempt by those above them, even treated as slaves in some cases. In many cases (though not all) they make up the lowest percentage of the population, their limited numbers making them easier to abuse or marginalize.

The reasons for this vary: in some cases, the members of this class will be some kind of racial or political minority discriminated against by the mainstream, but not enough to be persecuted to the point of extermination; in others, they may have been forced into this group from birth as part of some form of Fantastic Caste System; in a few examples, the Underclass may consist of individuals who have been exiled for some offense against the law - real or perceived; and in some rare cases, people have ended up here due to sheer bad luck. Whatever the case, these unlucky folk are considered the lowest of the low and have little hope of escaping their unfortunate status.

Most likely to be found in a Fantastic Ghetto of some description. Often an example of Fantastic Racism on a society-wide scale, with members tolerated just enough to permit their survival... though in a few very unfortunate cases, this can change for the worst.

Compare and contrast Slave Race and Servant Race, who may end up in this societal niche if treated badly enough.

No real-life examples, please.


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     Comic Books 
  • Throughout Strontium Dog, Mutant populations in New Britain are not allowed to hold any jobs apart from bounty hunting or to live amongst normal humans, instead living in run-down ghettos.
  • In Transformers: More than Meets the Eye and Transformers: Robots in Disguise, we get a look at the history of Cybertron, where for a long time it was ruled by the Functionists, who assigned a Cybertronian a caste based on their alt-mode. Beastformers, the Transformers who turned into animal alt-modes, were considered to be little better than actual animals and treated as such. Only slightly higher on the totem pole were the "disposable class", whose alt-modes were so common they were considered interchangeable and replaceable, and therefore a sub-sentient Slave Race. One of the things the polymath Dominus Ambus is famous for is championing the rights of such low-caste Cybertronians, such as devising a test that proved they were fully sentient people.

     Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Referenced in "Shipping Preparations" and "Skirmishing", where Imps, magically created servants, are treated this way:
    An imp's life was hard, no matter whom they served, and they held little loyalty to their employers. It came as no surprise that they eagerly took the offered opportunity to remain among the living.
  • In Hemostuck, Blue- and violet-blooded trolls make the impoverished underclass of the warmblood-dominated society, and the sea-dwelling trolls are reduced to living in a ghetto around the docks or in shantytowns in the sewers.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Mecha already occupy a very shaky position in society due to the growing animus against robots, but because they're so vital to holding the remains of civilization together, they're legally protected as licensed property. The same can't be said for unlicensed Mecha: robots who've lost their operating licenses by accident or design, they are essentially homeless, dependent on scrap in order to survive; worse still, they're considered fair game by the Flesh Fair, who destroy them on-stage as scapegoats for the downfall of Orga society.
  • Orcs fill the role of a societal underclass in Bright, facing discrimination from other species and largely living in impoverished neighborhoods and ghettos.
  • District 9 features the inhabitants of an alien ship being shunted into this role after being stranded above Johannesburg; regarded as vermin by the South African populace, the "Prawns" are segregated to the gang-run shantytown known as District 9, where they are largely left to their own devices unless MNU feels the need to cull their numbers or confiscate their technology. Most cannot find work, and many of them are kept addicted to cat food, which makes them even more listless and easier to exploit.
  • In Gattaca, most of future society has been genetically engineered, so social status is predetermined by the quality of the engineering: the best-engineered "Valid" individuals get the best chances in life, defective creations are given fewer opportunities, and some individuals are effectively built for certain specialized roles. The lowest rung on the ladder of society is occupied by those who haven't been engineered at all: called "faithbirths", "godchilds", and "In-Valids", naturally-born individuals are barely trusted with janitorial duties, segregated to ghettos, and regularly picked on by the police. Plus, with DNA scanners everywhere in this society, certain doors will always remain closed to the new underclass. As such, the plot of the story features an In-Valid infiltrating society's elite using DNA samples donated by a physically disabled Valid.
  • Aboard the super-train Snowpiercer, social class is determined by a passenger's ticket, with first-class ticketholders becoming pampered aristocrats and economy-classes becoming workers; "freeloaders" who stowed away to escape The End of the World as We Know It now form the lowest possible ranking. Segregated to the tail-end of the train, they live in cramped bunks, are surrounded by filth on a constant basis, are regularly abused by guards, and kept alive only by rations of protein bars grudgingly supplied by the crew — and before then, cannibalism was very common among the tail-enders. They're mainly used to provide Wilford with child-slaves that can replace failing engine parts - or a means of starting a rebellion if the train's population needs to be culled.
  • In Zardoz, the human race has two classes: the upper class, the Eternals, are immortal, possess psychic powers and live in isolation, and the lower class, the Brutals, are mortal, live in the post-apocalyptic Crapsack World, and serve the Eternals, held in line by a devotion to the eponymous stone god (who is really the creation of one Eternal, inspired by The Wonderful Wizard of Oz). And these two groups include subgroups. Among the Eternals, there are the Apathetics, who are so bored by immortality that they literally cannot do anything anymore, and the Renegades, rebellious Eternals who are punished by being aged up into senility (since no Eternal can die). Among the Brutals, there are the Exterminators, who regularly hunt down and slaughter other Brutals to prevent over-population.

  • Bas-Lag Cycle
    • In New Crobuzon, the Remade are on the bottom rung on the social ladder - even lower than non-human "xenians". Essentially criminals who've fallen foul of the city's notoriously vicious justice system, they have been magically mutilated by bio-thaumaturges either to embody their crime in some way or to fill some niche in vital industry. As if being hideously disfigured wasn't bad enough, the Remade are often restricted to work crews or ghettos, and those of them who don't have assigned jobs are forced to resort to crime or rely on charity in order to survive - no easy task, considering they're so widely hated; many citizens regard them as being justly punished, even though their punishments vastly outweigh their crimes, if they even committed any.
    • Vampirs occupy this slot in The Necrocracy of High Cromlech. Because the uppermost regions of society are occupied by undead liches, vampirs are regarded as weak for their semi-living status and dependency on blood; surviving as junkies and beggars, they're even lower on the hierarchy than the human populace.
  • The Epsilons of Brave New World. In the Fantastic Caste System of the dystopian future, everyone is engineered for certain roles in society, with corresponding levels of intelligence, health, and even height. The lowest on the hierarchy are the Epsilon class: the absolute nadir of the working class, they are regarded with contempt if noticed at all by their superiors, are given only the simplest of duties, and have actually been engineered to be stupider and shorter than everyone else by inducing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome during their gestation.
  • Andre Norton's novels Catseye, Night of Masks, Judgment on Janus and Forerunner Foray: The planet Korwar is the home of the incredibly rich, but it has a dark spot: the Dipple, a slum filled with the dregs of the galaxy. Many of them are war refugees and all of them are poor. Some join the powerful Thieves' Guild or sell themselves into offworld slavery to escape.
  • Discworld:
    • Goblins only gained the full rights of a sentient humanoid race after their systemic abuse became public knowledge; before then, those who moved to Ankh-Morpork and are actually considered useful in menial jobs are forced to live in a shanty township outside the city limits — shades of South Africa in The Apartheid Era.
    • Gnolls do the street cleaning of the filthiest and most disgusting street refuse (and are suspected of actually eating a lot of it).
    • Golems weren't even recognized as alive before the events of Feet of Clay, and even the undead looked down on them.
  • In Flawed, the "Flawed" are given their lowly status when stepping out of line with their "perfect" society, often for rather minor mistakes, like lying, being "corrupt", or even just helping a Flawed person. Along with their new status comes near-universal societal rejection and mistreatment, from the minor inconveniences (a special, completely bland diet), to the major inequalities (not being allowed to travel, stand in a group with other Flawed, or have kids with another Flawed). It's mentioned that literal criminals actually face better treatment, as at least their punishment is over once they're out of jail, whilst being Flawed is a life sentence, and turns one into a social pariah who can be outright abused with few-to-no punishments for the abusers.
  • The Guardians of Ga'Hoole spin-off series The Wolves Of The Beyond has the lowest-ranking pack members as the "gnaw wolves". Not only are they discriminated against for their physical deformities, like missing tails or twisted paws, but they're also relegated to just gnawing on bones - both as an actual job (for the sake of recording information), and as their primary source of food. In the Guardians book The Outcast, Coryn making the order that they let Hamish the gnaw wolf eat before the rest of the pack - lest the pack be denied any of the food from his hunt - is treated as a big, status-quo-shaking deal.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: Gilead is already the Trope Codifier for a No Woman's Land, with women being completely stripped of their civil rights, but Handmaids are the lowest of the low, being "unacceptable" but fertile women who are thus forced into being Breeding Slaves for the upper class. They are ceremonially raped every month, forbidden to socialize, watched at almost all times, and their survival depends on whether they can rear a healthy baby for their owners — if not, they can be tortured or killed. They're also subject to constant Slut-Shaming. Even Jezebels (who are more standard Sex Slaves at brothels for the higher-level men) and Unwomen (who are sent to clean up nuclear waste) have more autonomy, and at least one character expresses that she'd rather be an Unwoman than a Handmaid, despite Handmaids being technically a step up.
  • Werewolves are perpetually marginalized in the Harry Potter series: though essentially ordinary witches and wizards for most of the month, prejudice against them has continued despite the development of potions that allow them to retain their minds while transformed, to the point that laws have been passed to effectively legalize anti-werewolf discrimination. Because of this, most werewolves have great difficulty finding work, and those who do usually end up forced to take jobs far below the level of their ability; poverty is common as a result.
  • Into the Bloodred Woods: Werebeasts spend their lives in cages, separated from the rest of the kingdom except to perform for their amusement. Ursula, herself a werebeast, seeks to rectify this once she becomes queen. Albrecht, meanwhile, seeks the opposite and plans to wipe them out.
  • Keeper of the Lost Cities: Elves without special abilities are termed Talentless. They live in "working-class" cities, attend the Sucky School Exillium (at least until Sophie convinces the Council to improve it), can only marry other Talentless or they'll get the scorn of being a "bad match," and are generally looked down on.
  • In Adam Roberts' Land Of The Headless, the eponymous cyborgs are treated as the dregs of their society: being punished criminals, the Headless are constantly regarded as potential repeat offenders, and because all of them were decapitated as part of their sentence, they are instantly recognizable. Most businesses refuse to serve them, the police have carte blanche to screw with them at will, and the only gainful employment they can find is in the lowliest of menial tasks — or military service, which is even harsher on them than headed troops. Worse still, they are dependent on drugs to replace the secretions of their pineal and pituitary glands, so most remain impoverished for the rest of their lives.
  • The Last Battle: After the conquest of Narnia by Calormen, Talking Animals have been reduced to the level of dumb beasts — perhaps worse, in that the Calormenes treat them worse than they do many of their own valued animals (such as war horses).
  • Mistborn: The Original Trilogy: Society in the Final Empire is divided into Nobles, who control all property and business (albeit at the Lord Ruler's sufferance); and Skaa, who have no legal rights and are either effectively chattel slaves or a criminal underclass. They were engineered by the Lord Ruler from people who did not support his ascension, and the class divide starts to break down after his death.
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four: The society of Oceania is divided into Inner Party members, Outer Party members, and the Proles. Though the latter are regarded as animals and living in squalor, there's actually one level below them occupied by the populations of the disputed territories between the three super-states: reduced to outright slavery, these unfortunates don't even have the Bread and Circuses granted to the Proles and are treated like a resource "to be expended like so much coal or oil". Ironically, this leaves them with the most realistic perspective on the ongoing Forever War, as they don't have the luxury of regarding it as something that will one day end: they know that they are inescapably trapped in an endless loop of being invaded, enslaved, liberated, and then invaded and enslaved by their "liberators," ad infinitum.
  • October Daye: Changelings are outright called a "born underclass" in Chimes at Midnight. They're stuck between the world of mortals and that of immortals. Discriminated against and treated as lesser by purebloods. Many of the things in faerie can hurt and outright kill them and their relatives and parents can treat them as children, family, or even Living Props for them.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, Vorin societies (a widespread religion in the eastern half of the main continent) are divided into two broad social groups: the "lighteyed" and "darkeyed." Lighteyes have brightly-colored eyes and tend to occupy higher a social standing, greater upward mobility, and act as leaders, while the darkeyes have very dark-colored eyes and tend to occupy more menial jobs and have limited upward mobility outside of intermarriage. There are also a series of social ranks within these divisions, with those at the lowest rank being the lowliest menial laborers and those at the highest ranks having the most rights and freedoms. There are also other limitations placed on the lighteyes and darkeyes. For example, darkeyes cannot use swords or achieve high ranks in the military, and while darkeyes can be punished for serious crimes by being enslaved, lighteyes who commit the same crimes are just executed outright.
    • And below even the darkeyes are the parshmen, the descendants of the ancient Voidbringers who were enslaved by humanity after an attempt to cut them off from the support of their Unmade masters left them mystically lobotomized and incapable of functioning without orders.
  • The Seventh Tower: The Chosen's caste system follows a Rainbow Motif to match their light-based magic, with some caste mobility. Beneath even the lowest of the Reds are the Underfolk servants, who are denied Sunstones and have no chance to become Chosen.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The Empire is very openly human-centric, and aliens under its rule are consistently abused and discriminated against. Military service is, outside of a few notable exceptions, barred to non-humans, while most aliens on Coruscant are required to live in specific, isolated neighborhoods.
    • On Tatooine, Jawas are the lowest-regarded nonhuman species that can still be considered part of society. Subsisting mainly as scavengers, they're regarded as foul-smelling pests and can be abused or even killed with little consequence — especially in urban areas like Mos Eisley and Anchorhead. It's for this reason that most prefer to live in hidden fortresses and sandcrawlers out in the deserts, where they generally fare much better - though this leaves them under threat of attack by the Tusken Raiders.
    • Among the Yuuzhan Vong, the Shamed Ones are considered the lowest of their Fantastic Caste System: they consist of anyone who has been recognized as "imperfect", most commonly those whose Escalation Ceremony failed, leaving them maimed by transplant rejection. Though officially ranked as members of the Worker Caste, even the workers look down on Shamed Ones, relegating them to only the most degrading job; one of the most prominent of this caste is Onimi, a former Shaper now serving as a Court Jester of Supreme Overlord Shimrra. Except he's a lot more influential than he first appears...
    • According to the Book of Sith, the original Sith species used slave laborers collectively called "Grotthu". Among other things, they were frequently sacrificed en masse.
      Sorzus Syn: After experiencing the artifice of the Republic's slavery bans, it's refreshing to see the weakness of inferiors affirmed and exploited for gain!
    • On Zoland, genetic experimentation to counteract a Solar Flare Disaster resulted in the creation of the shapeshifting Clawdites. For centuries, Clawdites were regarded by the majority of the Zolander populace as impure, their powers believed to be sinful in nature. Consequently, they had no rights whatsoever, were only allowed to live in heavily-guarded slums, and apparently weren't allowed formal education in the use of their powers; the only ones who could remotely be described as free were the ones who escaped off-world and made a living as mercenaries (as was the case with Zam Wessel). It took a twenty-year civil war for the Clawdites to finally achieve equal rights, and even that required them to essentially take over the entire planet and become the majority.

     Live-Action TV 
  • In the Black Mirror episode "Fifteen Million Merits," the nameless dystopia has forced obese members of society into this niche. Because the overwhelming majority of the working classes are riding exercise bikes to produce electricity for the other societal strata, overweight citizens are traditionally shamed for "slacking" and regulated to janitorial roles — if they're lucky. The really unlucky ones are often publicly humiliated on one of the many Immoral Reality Shows in this setting.
  • Farscape episode "Dream A Little Dream" provided a very bizarre example of this on the planet Litigara: lawyers of various rankings make up 90% of the population alongside the security services, with the head of the most powerful law firm being effectively in charge of society. With the planet extensively mechanized, actual physical labour has become so unnecessary that utilities workers make up less than 10% of the population... and because of the stigma attached to professions outside legal work or law enforcement, utilities are uniformly treated like scum.
  • As with the film, Snowpiercer has the "Tailies", passengers who hopped the titular train without tickets and who have been banished to the tail-end of the train. Hated by most of the other passengers, they survive by the mercy of Melanie Cavill, the train's secret boss, who recognizes that some of the Tailies might have skills that she needs to keep the train running.
  • Remans in Star Trek are the menial laborers and slaves for the Romulan Star Empire, mostly working in the mines on Remus (the tidally-locked twin planet of Romulus). During the Dominion War, the Romulans used them as disposable Cannon Fodder, and the ones who survived were simply dumped back into the mines.

     Tabletop Games 
  • In BattleTech, below all the official castes in the Clans' Fantastic Caste System exists the Bandit - aka "Dark" - caste. Its members are the outcasts and rejects of Clan society, often those who have failed in their assigned (or reassigned) caste but who refuse to accept demotion, or simply those who do not fit in to the rigid structure of Clan life.
  • Exalted: In the Underwater City of Sunken Luthe, society is divided between the aquatic beastmen and the relic population of surface-normal humans, the descendants of the Dragon-Blooded crew that worked on Luthe when it was still a floating fortress. As the people of Luthe worship Leviathan, an ancient Lunar, who is old enough to remember the Usurpation and how the Dragon-Blooded rose against the Solars and the Lunars, the Luthian humans are openly despised by the rest of the city, who refer to them as the Traitorkin and force them to live in a segregated ghetto and to work as menial laborers.
  • Mage: The Ascension:
    • The older Traditions tend to look down on more technologically-minded mages like the Sons of Ether and the Virtual Adepts, sometimes even believing them to be one step removed from becoming members of the Technocracy. In the past, this actually led to House Verditus being dissolved by the Order of Hermes and its membership assigned to House Ex Miscellanea, where they were doomed to spend the rest of their lives as embarrassments and outcasts. Unfortunately, this led to several members of House Verditus joining the Technocracy out of sheer spite.
    • Mages who exist outside the factions are often on the lowest rung of Awakened society, especially the ones who haven't united under the banner of the Hollow Ones. Known condescendingly as Orphans, they follow neither Traditional magic nor Enlightened Science, instead creating their own style of Reality Warping through trial and error. For this reason, many treat them as misguided children, either dismissing their work as invalid or trying to recruit the more "promising" ones into the Traditions or the Technocracy, sometimes minus their consent. However, because many exist without the support of a faction, Orphans are often killed by Technocracy hitsquads before they can endanger their interests or preyed upon by Nephandi. The fact that several Orphans are impoverished or even homeless doesn't help.
  • In Red Markets, most Enclaves force Latents to live in isolated camps by the fence, which they're usually guarding. It's somewhat justified as they can set off a localized Zombie Apocalypse when they die.
  • Shadowrun:
    • The lowest class in the UCAS (United Canadian and American States) is the SINless: people without a SIN (System Identification Number). Anyone without a SIN basically has no civil rights and no right to receive benefits normal citizens can expect, such as medical care. SINless metahumans tend to be very poor and homeless, with either a low-paying job or no job at all. They are often discriminated against and mistreated by those with SINs and have little hope of survival or bettering themselves. Amusingly, in some editions, "SINner" is available as a disadvantage; the price of being a recognized citizen is that if you ever use your SIN, you have a paper trail - and a paper trail is generally the absolute last thing a Runner wants.
    • In general, orks and trolls receive very poor treatment in most societies. They typically get stuck with the worst-paying jobs, are looked down on by humans, elves and dwarves as primitive brutes, and tend to live in impoverished neighborhoods with few to no opportunities to improve their lot. In elf-ruled nations such as Tir Tairngire and Tir na nOg, everyone who isn't an elf is a disaffected peon with no opportunities or political voice.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade:
    • Though many vampire clans are treated as lowlier than others, such as the Nosferatu and Malkavians, they still manage to prosper in their own ways despite their many disadvantages. By contrast, vampires that show no sign of clan lineage are constantly on the bottom rung of Kindred society: called "Caitiff", they are often abandoned by their sires and forced to eke out a living without the protection of a clan. Most end up dying young due to anti-Caitiff prejudice or lack of guidance, and those who survive are commonly treated as pariahs unless they manage some nigh-impossible feat of heroism for the Camarilla. Among the Sabbat, a lucky few known as Panders have been grudgingly accepted and united as a clan; however, even Panders are still treated shabbily, regarded as mutts, and given only the dirtiest jobs their masters can think of.
    • Even lower than Caitiff are the Thin-Bloods: essentially vampires of the 14th generation, they are the weakest of all vampires - and barely qualify as this in the eyes of some. Though they may be blessed with the ability to eat food, produce living children or even walk in sunlight, they rarely get to enjoy these advantages: the Sabbat kill them on sight, believing them to be harbingers of Gehenna. Meanwhile, vampires who tolerate Thin-Bloods offer them no place in society, and even at best, the Thin-Blooded are permitted within Camarilla dominions only if they stick to the fringes.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Imperium of Man considers the natural human form to holy and perfect, and any deviation from it to be repulsive, often indicative of a twisted and debased soul. However, due to the cumulative influence of thousands of years on wildly alien worlds, abundant chemical or radioactive mutagens, and the constant influence of Chaos, mutation or divergent human phenotypes are very common. Consequently, when they're not lynched outright, the Imperium's mutant and abhuman natives tend to make up the downtrodden underclass of Imperial worlds, living in run-down and squalid ghettos in the worst parts of the hive cities — or in some cases entirely outside of them — and allowed to do so purely to serve as cheap, expendable workforces and cannon fodder. Abhumans, originating from purely environmental adaptations and sporting no further mutations, tend to be at least somewhat more accepted than mutants... but not by much.
    • Tau society supposedly treats its human citizens (AKA Gue'vesa) quite well, sometimes to the point of Better Living Through Evil. However, the Tau ending of Dawn of War: Dark Crusade indicates that human populations that don't surrender of their own accord are given a much frostier reception, being subjected to extensive re-education or even forced to migrate in order to make way for Tau and Kroot colonists. Ten years after the Dark Crusade, humans make up less than 5% of the population on Kronus, a possible sterilization program has caused their birth rate to plummet, and the few we see have been reduced to living in ruined slums.
  • In the World of Darkness crossover game Midnight Circus, the eponymous circus is organized into a hierarchy of circles — the fifth of which consists of performers and workers ranked even lower than the Freaks. Consisting of misfits too dysfunctional to achieve prestige of their own, the Fifth Circle are constantly looked down upon by the rest of the Circus. Regardless of how they ended up here, everyone suffers: Tub of Flesh is barely tolerated as a watchdog and only protected due to an edict from the Infernal Trinity; Dmitri Babinov is a slave to Koba's Clown Show; Taminka Tanaka is one lost humanity point away from degenerating into a nonsapient monster; Tattoo Tim has been permanently corrupted by his Bane materials; and Bill Biloc is due to be bumped off as soon as the Trinity can find another animal trainer.

     Video Games 
  • Arcanum: Because of the huge amount of Fantastic Racism that pervades society, orcs and half-orcs living in the city of Tarant are denied basic rights available to most of the other races. A lucky few are permitted to work in the city's factories as what basically amounts to slave labor, the rest are huddled into the city's ghetto district, The Boil, where their only prospect is to join with one of the criminal gangs. It's possible to change the status quo by the end of the game, by completing a particular quest in a way that gets a half-orc civil rights activist elected as a member of the city council.
  • Bioshock 2 reveals that construction workers in Rapture ended up being forced into this social niche once the city was fully built: because there was no call to expand the city except under very special circumstances, there was no call for their skills, and since Rapture's ultra-capitalist utopia offered them no financial support, they were left impoverished, homeless and disaffected. Most settled in Pauper's Drop, a shantytown set up under one of Rapture's subway junctions - where they quickly ended up being preyed upon by con artists like Frank Fontaine and Augustus Sinclair, or recruited into the Rapture Family by Sofia Lamb.
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided: In the wake of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, in which a computer virus caused anyone with mechanical implants to go into a berserk rage, mechanically-augmented humans have become second-class citizens viewed by non-augmented humans with fear and hatred. In Prague, where the game is set, "augs" have to live in the crappiest part of town and go through police checkpoints to get anywhere.
  • Dragon Age:
    • In most human societies, Elves are barely tolerated: segregated to Alienages, they can only find work outside these areas as servants — or in Tevinter, slaves. For good measure, the lack of basic rights allow high-ranking noblemen to abuse Elves for their own amusement, as players find out the hard way in Dragon Age: Origins if they picked the "City Elf" origin.
    • As Dwarven society is dominated by a Fantastic Caste System, the Casteless are universally loathed: the descendants of outcasts and criminals, they are branded at birth so they can be recognized on sight, excluded from most forms of legal employment, and segregated to Dust Town — a region of Ozammar that makes Alienages look friendly. Casteless women have the opportunity to advance in status by seducing nobles, as caste is inherited from your same-sex parent so the sons of such unions will be nobles themselves, but other than that, little social mobility is available short of leaving Orzammar altogether. As such, many join the Carta in the hopes of earning money and status, as is the case with players who pick the "Dwarf Commoner" origin.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, the social structure of the City Planet Taris is stratified by layer, with the uppermost levels of society living on the top floors of skyscrapers, and the lower classes living down on lower levels. The lowest class, known simply as the "Outcasts", are petty criminals and the descendants of rebels who attempted to revolt against the Tarisian nobles; they are confined to the Under City on the ground, where they live in a ramshackle settlement with little advanced technology and are constantly preyed on by rakghouls.
  • Mass Effect
    • The vorcha: a primitive species known for their short lives, regenerative powers, and fast-breeding tendencies, they're widely considered to be pests in the communities where they end up, to the point that scenes on Omega indicate that they're targets of preventative culling. Though not an automatically violent species by nature, vorcha are often forcibly recruited by the Blood Pack to serve as shock troops - and even then, they're treated as little more than Cannon Fodder; in another scene on Omega, one Blood Pack captain casually guns down a vorcha underling just to demonstrate a point. Those who don't work as soldiers often eke out a living as scavengers.
    • The quarians, having no homeworld of their own beyond an aging spacefleet, are often considered unwanted vagrants or thieves wherever they turn up, assuming they aren't being blamed for unleashing the geth on the galaxy. They are called unflattering names by Citadel races, regarded with suspicion by law enforcement, and are often used as scapegoats if something goes wrong: Tali mentions that quarians aren't considered welcome in some parts of the Citadel, and C-Sec grilled her for hours before letting her onto the station. In Mass Effect 2, this prejudice is aptly demonstrated when a volus misplaces his credit chit and accuses a nearby quarian of stealing it — and when Shepard finds said chit exactly where its owner had forgotten it, the volus attempts to save face by remarking that she could have stolen it.
  • The Secret World:
    • No matter what masters they serve, Ghouls will always be the lowest in the hierarchy: though intelligent and capable of great magic given enough time and experience, the armies they support treat them as little more than animals, using them as little more than auxiliaries, Cannon Fodder, and corpse disposal — a task they admittedly excel at. In fact, the Jinn actually claim that they created Ghouls to act as their servants, forcing them into this cultural niche from the moment of their creation onwards.
    • Astonishingly enough, Ghouls themselves have their own underclass: Shambling Ghouls are considered the lowest on the pecking order, not merely for being weak, short-lived and Explosive Breeders, but for being able to tolerate sunlight and consume fresh meat. As such, more advanced ghouls detest them.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Imperial Agent and Bounty Hunter missions start on the planet Nal Hutta, the Hutt homeworld, which they took over from the native species the Evocii. The Evocii have since been made into slave labor for the Hutts, and are generally looked down upon by other species. One overheard conversation has an imperial officer commenting how he's never seen a species so pathetic they practically deserve to be mistreated.
  • In Stellaris if you don't want to outright enslave or purge a species you can set their citizenship rights to "resident", this limits their political influence and prevents them from producing leaders.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: As in the tabletop game, the Thin-Bloods are the youngest and weakest generation of vampires, barred from vampire society because of prophecies that identify them as omens of Gehenna. Lily and E's thin-blood group have been run out of several cities, can only hide out on the Santa Monica beach, and know almost nothing of what they are.
  • Warcraft: The Orcs were well on their way to becoming this after the Second War. The survivors were rounded up and placed in internment camps where they were kept for years afterwards as a strange lethargy (caused by a kind of withdrawal from losing the demonic power that had propelled the original invasion) settled over them. Some were taken and trained as gladiators, one of which, Thrall, eventually escaped and set about to free his people and reclaim their heritage.

    Web Animation 
  • In the world of Hazbin Hotel and Helluva Boss hellhounds and imps are at the bottom of Hell's hierarchy and are described as the working class of Hell by Word of God, the imps have their own city which looks very rundown even when compared to other cities seen in Hell. In fact after Stolas (who is one of Hell's nobles) has sex with the imp Blitzo, his wife's anger afterwards seems to be more about him sleeping with someone of lower status rather than the infidelity itself.

  • Be the Sea Dweller Lowblood: In a reversal of how Homestuck canon has it, troll society is ruled by trolls with warm-color blood. This means that, while red- and orangebloods live in luxury, and gold-and- greensbloods still enjoy good living conditions, the blue-and-violetbloods live in the poorer neighborhoods, are considered dangerous and uncivilized unless they take anger-reducing medication, and serve as a general worker force, while sea dwellers live in abject poverty in the slums.
  • Homestuck: Troll society is highly stratified by blood color — blue- and violet-blooded trolls make up to the elites and the nobility, while purple-blooded sea dwellers rule as they please. Gold-, orange- and rust-blooded trolls make up the lowest stratum of society and can be killed, maimed, or enslaved by the highbloods with little consequence.
  • Unsounded: The two-toe Lizard Folk were driven from their underground homes after a disastrous First Contact and now live on the margins of human society with none of the rights of citizenship, doing menial work. It goes From Bad to Worse when they're scapegoated for Princess Rilursa's murder and subjected to mass internment.

     Western Animation 
  • In Futurama, mutants (except for Leela, who pretends to be an alien) are not even granted a semblance of citizenship on Earth, and are legally required to live in the sewers. This changes when they rise up out of the sewers in "The Mutants are Revolting", and demand the right to live in the sun.
  • The Rick and Morty episode "The Ricklantis Mixup" reveals that the already corrupt society of the Citadel of Ricks has its own version of this: Mortys who lose their Ricks and can't get paired up with a new one at the Assimilation Academy are forced to stay at the Citadel full-time, where they're even lower on the social ladder than working-class Ricks. In keeping with Rick's habitual abuse of Morty, the Mortys of the Citadel are mercilessly discriminated against by the Ricks or at the very least rarely taken seriously, and sensitivity training does little to stop the Police Brutality inflicted against "Yellowshirts." Most of them end up being segregated to Mortytown, a hellhole of urban decay, drug addiction, and organized crime.
  • Steven Universe:
    • By the way the Hive Caste System the Gem Homeworld operates, pretty much every gem with the exception of the Diamonds are some form of Servant Race (a system that even the Diamonds aren't happy with). Special mention however goes to the Pearls, who exist to serve as ladies-in-waiting to their owners. They are implied by Peridot to exist as nothing more than status symbols, more tools to be used than working-class gems. Once we see Homeworld, it turns out there are some gems that are literally living furniture.
    • Off-colors are gems who do not fit the preferred mold of Homeworld's caste system, either possessing defects that cannot be remedied artificially through limb-enhancers, gems who fuse with other gem-types or prefer to be fused permanently. Homeworld has a zero-tolerance for off-colored gems and destroys them on sight until Steven ends Homeworld's empire.


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The Casteless

The lowest possible segment of Dwarven society, the Casteless are universally despised and kept segregated to the darkest and most squalid region of Orzammar; most are either beggars, noble-hunters, or criminals - as the Dwarven Commoner introduction clearly shows.

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Main / FantasticUnderclass

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