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Guilt-Free Extermination War

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We've wiped it off the face of the planet, and that's awesome!

"We must scour them from the stars before they do the same to us."
Chaplain Ortan Cassius on the Tyranids, Warhammer 40,000

You know how most wars end when one side gets what they want, or stops caring, or the other side surrenders? This is not that kind of war. This is a war where the only possible outcome is the utter annihilation of the other side. This isn't like many cases of Black-and-White Morality either, where one side wins forever and there's sugar and gumdrops for the rest of eternitynote , this is two sides fighting to the death for reasons that cannot be summed up. Other options are neither explored nor put forth as viable in any way. Don't expect either side to feel guilty either.

This is when both sides have no issues in trying to destroy the other side, and the only way that the war will end is with one side's destruction. Peace is not an option, and the only end is when the other side is destroyed entirely and there are no survivors. It may not even be a war: it may just be a natural enemy that is a constant danger to the Heroes, like the Zombie Apocalypse. Don't expect An Aesop or musing about how war is terrible or The Hero is becoming like their enemies. There won't be an agonizing decision about whether or not it's okay to annihilate enemy forces if the chance arises. These enemies aren't just okay to kill individually like Mooks, these enemies are okay to exterminate in their entirety. However, one side keeping the other around as food or nurseries fits in as well.


Frequent users include: Zombie Apocalypse, Bug War, Robot War, Horde of Alien Locusts, Creature-Hunter Organization and some cases of Scary Dogmatic Aliens note . Compare Always Chaotic Evil for when The Hero considers the enemy to be guilt-free but don't engage in a protracted war. Compare Final Solution, which isn't necessarily a war or an instance of Blue-and-Orange Morality or one side does it but the other side is unwilling to. May eventually wind up with Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide". Compare Do Unto Others Before They Do Unto Us. Also compare Dehumanization, when one or both sides see the other as an "inferior race/species/creature".



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Mushishi: while Ginko is normally a Friend to All Living Things and incredibly forgiving to even the most violent or dangerous mushi, his response when confronted with a species of mushi that exists solely by preying on people is to explain calmly that humans and that breed of mushi cannot coexist, and humans are stronger.
  • In Gunbuster, the space monsters are described as a galactic "immune system" trying to wipe out the "disease" of humanity. Humanity is aware that their winning may carry consequences for the galaxy but decides "Fuck that, we're gonna try to survive anyway."
  • Gundam:
    • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED: The war devolved into this after the destruction of the Eurasian military forces at JOSH-A, the Earth Alliance was quick to adopt extremely dubious policies like using drugged up Super Soldiers to keep up with Zaft's genetically enhanced ones, and ZAFT used Genesis to microwave their enemies alive.
    • The Veigans and Earth Federation Forces also apply in Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, all of the Veigans are fanatically loyal to Elzecant and the Earth Federation knows nothing short of the extermination of the Veigan will stop them.
    • Orga's policy towards the enemy in Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans after Biscuit's death at the hands of Carta when Mika goads Orga to a more ruthless direction. This puts them on a much more ruthless and suicidal approach to fighting their foes in battle. The focus of the brutality can be felt after the Turbines were nearly massacred by Iok and Jasley killing Lafter to spark off a violent reaction from Tekkadan which in term resulted in a brutal counterattack without compromise for anyone, even the normally sane Human Debris pilots Nadi and Dante gave Zack a cold glare for suggesting mercy.
  • This is not the case in Superior, but most side characters think it is, as does the female lead. The primary conflict between her and the male lead is over whether a peaceful solution is possible. (To make matters worse, they're supposed to be leading opposite sides of the fight—she argues with herself quite a bit over why she hasn't just killed him if she's so certain he'll have to die eventually.)
  • Galactic Alliance vs. Hideauze war in Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet definitely feels like this. And at least the Alliance is desperate enough to employ artificially-grown Child Soldiers like the protagonist. Then it's revealed that the Hideauze are genetically altered Humans. Suddenly, Ledo begins feeling a lot of guilt.
  • Attack on Titan:
    • The primary conflict between humanity and the Titans. Humanity is on the brink of extinction, and the protagonist's stated goal is to wipe the Titans from the face of the earth so humanity can be free again. Then it becomes complicated, zigzagging all over the place. At least some of the Titans are actually humans with a Lovecraftian Superpower, utilizing a trio of Tyke Bombs to carry out the extermination. All three begin to crumble under the guilt of their actions, revealing the enemy isn't as mindlessly evil as it seemed. Then the protagonists learn that all Titans are human, merely innocent victims merged with a monster and unable to control their actions. The senior members of the Survey Corps are deeply shaken by this revelation.
    • Later on, this trope applies to the Marley vs. Eldia conflict. Marley, at the very least, seems to not care about civilian deaths so long as they can get rid of the Eldian empire as well as Paradis Island and its inhabitants. If recent chapters are any indication, Eren is willing to kill civilians in order to make a statement to the enemy.
    • And then in Chapter 123, Eren announces his intentions to annihilate every living thing outside of Paradis with his Titan army in order to protect his home. The "guilt-free" aspect is averted in Chapter 131, where it's made clear the emotional toll of massacring millions of innocents proves to be too much for Eren to handle in the moment, and as somewhat of a defense mechanism, he begins to hallucinate that he's a child again, freely exploring the world just like he's always wanted. Even the "extermination" aspect is also averted as Eren planned for his friends to stop him before he killed all of humanity, so that said friends go down as heroes and stop injustice against the Eldians.
  • Witch Hunter has a Guilt-Free Extermination War on both sides of the conflict. The human side began to kill witches as a new and powerful religion that spoke against them began to spread, leading to the death of countless mostly innocent witches. In answer to this, the witches began their own war against the humans, wiping out whole countries using their magic and powerful familiars. The humans in answer to this, started an Organization called WH, made up of powerful humans and witches, with the stated goal of capturing and restraining as many witches as they can, locking them up and draining them of their powers. The main problem is that many of their more powerful non-witch members despise witches for their actions and kill as many of them as they can, and also wish to kill the ones that fight for their side.
  • One of the central themes of Tokyo Ghoul explores the consequences for both sides, when this sort of attitude is in full force. Since Ghouls can only eat human (or Ghoul) flesh, the majority adopts an attitude that devalues life in order to deal with eating sentient beings to survive. Humanity has passed the Ghoul Countermeasure Acts, requiring the extermination of Ghouls and harsh punishment for any human that fails to report one. Most people don't even realize that Ghouls are people, considering them inhuman monsters that may mimic human appearance but not seeing anything wrong with torturing or killing small children if they are Ghouls. Reality is more complicated, and the series focus on a human turned into a Half-Human Hybrid and taken in by a group of peaceful Ghouls that scavenge dead bodies to survive. Kaneki comes to realize the cruelty of the endless cycle of killing, with humans and Ghouls alike suffering because of it. Encountering him makes Ghoul Investigator Amon begin to question everything he's been taught, while Interspecies Romance repeatedly plays a significant role in the story more than once. The finale of the original series brings this full circle, with the CCG raiding Anteiku and both sides left absolutely devastated while the militant Aogiri benefits from the carnage. The utter pointlessness of it all is driven home by a pair of Investigators wondering if anyone could be considered the victor, while the sequel shows that the consequences have made things worse for humans and Ghouls alike.
  • Goblin Slayer: The titular protagonist's one-man war of genocide against the goblins, a sapient species, is morally acceptable because goblins are made clear to have no redeeming qualities whatsoever, without exception, including their children. On the flip side, part of their vindictive hate for all other civilization comes from surviving attempts by those civilizations to exterminate all goblins for being Always Chaotic Evil savages, causing an eternal Cycle of Revenge that will only end when either all goblins are dead or goblins rule the world.
  • In I am the Evil Lord of an Intergalactic Empire, the protagonist has this attitude towards pirates, both individually and as a whole. This is justified by the fact that regardless of origin or excuse, pirates are so heinous and their crimes so horrific that the only acceptable punishment is death, and showing them any mercy whatsoever just allows them time to rebuild, rearm, and come back stronger and meaner than before. Pirates also completely practice Do Unto Others Before They Do Unto Us, firmly convinced that if they don't completely exterminate the people they go out of their way to antagonize in the first place then their victims will just summarily hunt them down and kill them, or hire someone to do it for them.
  • In Tekkaman Blade, absolutely no one feels bad about killing off the Radam's alien hordes; the Tekkamen... not so much.
  • In The Promised Neverland this is the attitude of Norman and his followers towards the human-eating Demons. In contrast, Emma works to stop their extermination plan because she believes the Demons can be reformed without going extinct (albeit still requiring the death of their extremely corrupt and evil Royal Class).
  • Blame: The Silicon Life have been hunting humans since the dawn of the city, as they pose a threat to the established state of the Net Sphere. Humans fare no better: when they get a hold of the architects, they find no guilt in destroying entire hives, as told by Pcell in the sequel one shot. Neither seem to consider coexistence to be possible, even though the City is big enough to house both their civilizations. She seems to value human life, however, so there might be hope after all.
  • Cells at Work!: The Immune Cells are merciless against foreign invaders, immediately killing anything they recognize as an antigen or germ. Given that they are literal germs with no other aspirations or purpose other than to take over the body or kill the cells for nutrients, there's never a need to feel bad about it - it's something that goes on inside you every second of every day after all. This is one reason why Cancer Cell wants to multiply and take over the body. Since the world wanted him dead, he feels that the other cells should taste what being hunted and killed feels like. However, despite his more sympathetic characterization, his death is still portrayed as entirely necessary.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Metabarons Universe, humanity is threatened by an alien invasion. Rather than waste resources fighting a war, they agree to a battle between two champions. The loser commits "immediate racial suicide." This is perfectly in keeping with the Metabarons storyline, where everything is cranked Up to Eleven.
  • Spider-Man presented a case of this in The 1990's Planet of the Symbiotes storyline. The whole series went as far as to portray the Symbiotes as a Horde of Alien Locusts dedicated to finding and taking over the bodies of other sentient beings to feed on their life forces until they become decayed hollow shells. The Venom symbiote and its progeny are apparently the only ones who care for their hosts due to a form of mutation. At the end of the series, Eddie Brock as Venom manipulates Spider Man and Scarlet Spider into finishing a plan to send out a telepathic scream that would create enough pain and despair that the Symbiotes would commit suicide. Spider Man feels guilty about essentially causing the genocide of an entire race, but is given the Aesop that the ends sometimes do justify the means if the species eliminated is a Always Chaotic Evil race dedicated to destroying worlds to feed itself. It's even more jarring considering the Aesop was delivered by Mary Jane Watson of all people.
  • Paperinik New Adventures: Xadhoom's war against the Evronians: they are an imperialistic Always Chaotic Evil species who destroyed her homeworld and exterminated almost all of her people, so she's going to exterminate them in return.
  • In Curse of the Mutants, Cyclops outright says that he is prepared to commit genocide against Xarus' vampiric people.
  • Superman story arc The Unknown Supergirl presents a subversion. During a Kryptonite-induced hallucination, Supergirl believes she has developed an uncontrollable Deadly Gaze and leaves Earth to not hurt anybody. Then she remembers the existence of a planet inhabited by an utterly evil monster race who prey on other planets, destroy civilizations and kill people. Kara heads towards there to glare all of them to death, and after wiping them out, awakens from her hallucination.
  • Marvel Universe vs. the Punisher: Played with. The question of whether or not it's okay to slaughter large numbers of what are effectively very sick people creates tension within the Heroes ranks, but the question falls by the wayside as it becomes clear how far the infection has spread. The heroes are still shown to pay lip service to the idea of containing people's infected loved ones, though.

    Fan Works 
  • The Space Ponies of My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic have engaged in this with any species deemed Always Chaotic Evil - the Crystallites, the Insectos, etc.
  • The Prayer Warriors have no qualms with wanting to wipe out all their enemies, since their version of God told them to do so, and they don't believe their enemies are humans, anyway.

    Films — Animated 
  • Titan A.E.: The Drej are Energy Beings who attempt to wipe out humanity when they started fearing that humans will supplant them as the dominant species in the cosmos if they're allowed to thrive. The Drej themselves are exterminated by the survivors of the destroyed Earth as their mothership is consumed by the Titan to create a new homeworld.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Terminator: In the future, humans vs the robots. Skynet sees humans as worthy of extinction and programs its robot troops to kill any in their path without compunction; the humans' only real way to win the war is to destroy Skynet and its armies for good. This is however subverted by the intelligent Terminator models, who have the potential to understand the value of life. This feature is routinely deactivated by Skynet for field models to make it easier to control them.
  • Independence Day: The aliens, in keeping with their Horde of Alien Locusts nature, have no issues wiping out entire cities full of people. Humanity has no issues returning the favor for the alien mother ship. The US President actually does probe for peace even after they destroy every major city on Earth, with an alien that had just slaughtered a team of scientists no less. The response was a Mind Rape that would have killed him if the alien wasn't shot, and it showed him that their entire civilization is based upon moving from one world to another, wiping out the natives, using up all the resources, and then moving on to the next planet to repeat.
    The second film maintains this, as the queens' objective is still to harvest the Earth, there's just a side note of revenge. The humans by the end get invited to a coalition of other species that had survived the harvesting of their planets, with the purpose of hitting the Harvester aliens at their homeworld and exterminating them in turn.
  • In Pacific Rim, the Kaiju are here to kill humanity. There's nothing to hold humanity back from punching them in the face in turn, and eventually sending a nuclear warhead back through the interdimensional gateway to hit the Kaijus' creators.
  • The Martians in Mars Attacks!, they invade Earth and massacre everyone with glee. Then the humans in turn do the same to the invaders when they figured out their weakness.
  • In Thor: The Dark World, both the Asgardians and Dark Elves are okay with exterminating each other to the last. This is explained because the Dark Elves, created before light itself existed, can only really survive in the dark. Since every other race needs light to survive, it makes it a Us Or Them war for both sides. Even Odin and the new, conscientious Thor never really pause and say "There must be a peaceful way...right?"
  • Aliens: After the first engagement with the Xenomorphs leaves most of the Colonial Marines dead, Ripley convinces the remainder to exterminate the alien monsters by firing a nuclear missile at them from orbit. The Xenos are an omnicidal species adhering to a Blue-and-Orange Morality, a species that is heavily implied to be a genetically engineered bioweapon that is supposed to completely supplant any sentient lifeform in the area it infects. The only person to object to this is a Corrupt Corporate Executive with a stake in weaponizing them.
  • Ender's Game: The premise of the movie revolves around this, as the humans seemed to fight a Hopeless War against the Formics. Then the movie then sends a fist towards the viewers' faces when the humans themselves became too bloodthristy for their own good that they tricked Ender into wiping out the entire Formic race.
  • Starship Troopers:
    • The film satirizes this by having the Humans take a disturbing amount of glee in the destruction of the Insectoid Aliens. The propaganda reel after the alien meteorite destroys Buenos Aires particularly demonstrates this. One of the survivors looking straight into the camera and earnestly declaring, "The only good bug is a dead bug!" The next clip of people at home "doing their part" is of school children crushing cockroaches and their teacher maniacally cheering them on. The one journalist who suggests that compromise is possible if Humans stay out of Insect-populated worlds is immediately shouted down.
      Rico: I'm from Buenos Aires, and I say, Kill'em all!
    • At the end of the movie, when they capture the Brain Bug, Carl psychically merges with it to learn what it's thinking. When he announces that it's afraid, rather than feeling empathy or sympathy, all the soldiers triumphantly cheer!
    • It's not just the humans who are gleefully genocidal, by the way—The Bugs feel the same way. When one of them talks through a possessed human in the second film, he expresses his extreme disgust for Humanity's lack of a Hive Mind and compares them to a virus that has to be exterminated completely. While the humans are clearly the aggressors, it's doubtful that peace would ever be possible even if the humans left the Bugs alone.
    • On top of all that, it is suggested several times throughout the film that humanity is losing the war off-screen. Exhibit A: The replacements in Rico's Roughnecks are clearly fourteen-year-olds. Exhibit B: The main characters all end up in senior command positions when Captain Deladier and Lieutenant Rasczak both end up as battle fatalities. Exhibit C: The deranged General Owen screaming "My God! We're ALL going to die!" could be interpreted as him knowing the real strategic outlook.
  • In Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch, the only strategy against the Gremlins is to kill them all, given that their sole aim is Chaotic Evil.
  • In the end of Avengers: Endgame, Iron Man doesn't hesitate to use the power of the Infinity Stones to Snap all of Thanos's forces out of existence, presumably rendering the Chitauri and Outrider species extinct.

  • The Bible is the Ur-Example, as the Hebrews are ordered by God to displace and destroy the Canaanite people. This is supposed to be okay because they practice child sacrifice and temple prostitution, and also because the 'curse of Canaan' says it will happen. It's up to the reader whether this is Values Dissonance or not.
    • The Orthodox Jews consider even today the extermination of Amalekites (and their assumed descendants) as a mitzva.
    • Technically, only the Amalekites were supposed to be destroyed... that is, the rest of the nations were given the option to clear out. Allegedly, one did.
  • Bolo: The Final War with the Melconians. The entire war becomes a war of genocide with the only strategy being "kill everything of the enemy's before he kills yours." And the authors do mean EVERYTHING. The fact that everyone that survived the war was horrified at what happened, with what little remains of both sides agreeing that it was a terrible thing, shows that it wasn't really guilt-free at all.
  • The Book of Dragons: "The Long Walk 2020", the dragons' ultimate goal is the total extermination of the demons. This is because demons are relentlessly murderous creatures who always react to encountering other beings by trying to destroy them, and killing them off is the only way to keep them from exterminating everything else.
  • In Codex Alera, the conflict against the the Vord turns into this. The vord have a genetic imperative to absorb and destroy all other life, so there isn't really much room to negotiate. The Vord have already nearly wiped out the Canim, with the Canim being almost exterminated, save for the ones that Tavi and Varg were able to evacuate. The Hive Mind nature of the Vord also means that except the Queens, Vord are essential mindless beasts, meaning only a handful of actual sapient lifeforms have to die to stop the swarm.
  • The Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel Sky Pirates! revealed that the Timelords had a couple of wars like this in the distant past, where the opponents were just so utterly different each side regarded the other as an Eldritch Abomination to be utterly eliminated. The Timelords won.
  • Subverted in The Dresden Files with the war between the Red Court of Vampires and the White Council of Wizards. Initially, it seemed to be one of these - Red Court vamps only gain their power after their first kill, and were responsible for starting the war in the first place (they manipulated Harry into striking first, but they were going to start the war sooner or later regardless) in order to wipe out the White Council. In Changes, Dresden killed all of the vampires with a blood curse that affected everyone who shared a blood link with the Red King: the entire court. Granted, this was actually a Hoist by His Own Petard as the Red Court had other plans for the curse. Harry had acted to save various others and himself. However, subsequent books point out that this action also took out the Order of St. Giles as collateral damage, created an Evil Power Vacuum that still hasn't been cleaned up, and has inarguably left the world in a worse and more unstable position than they were with the Red Court at full strength.
  • This is part of the Signature Style of E. E. "Doc" Smith:
    • The Skylark Series features one of these after another:
      • The first is the planetary war between the two empires on Osnome, Kondal and Mardonale. Both sides are Proud Warrior Races led by absolute monarchies whose sole goal is to conquer the other and commit genocide against the loser, but their total war (there are no civilians) has been locked in a stalemate for millennia. (It is perhaps not a coincidence that Smith wrote the first draft while the First World War raged in Europe, but before the Americans got involved.) Even though both sides are guilty of war crimes and practice slavery, the Kondalians are willing to help the heroes when they arrive on their planet, unlike the Mardonalians who imprison them on sight, so the heroes ally with them and the narrative treats them as A Lighter Shade of Black, in spite of the fact that they use resources from the heroes to build superweapons which they then use to annihilate Mardonale to the last man, woman, and child.
      • The second book opens with the heroes on Earth, getting a visit from the Osnomians, who have since gotten into another genocidal war with the inhabitants of their neighboring planet Urvania. Despite Seaton’s and Crane’s wives objecting to the conflict, they go there anyway, since Seaton doesn’t want to see his friends wiped out. While on the way to Osnome, his ship is attacked by representatives from yet another alien species, who have vastly superior technology and reveal their plan to conquer the Galaxy. He fights them off and steals their technology, and gives Osnome and Urvania an ultimatum to call off their war, or he will destroy the survivor with Imported Alien Phlebotinum. This causes Osnome and Urvania to become allies, but leads to...
      • The aforementioned Conflict Killer is a species of Absolute Xenophobes called the Fenachrone, whose entire civilization is aimed toward the complete destruction of every other civilization in the universe. To that end, they’ve planned their conquest for centuries, mapping out the entire Galaxy and developing super-advanced weaponry in order to assure their success on the first try. They do suffer internal dissent, but even then, the debate is solely about whether they’re ready, and there is no debate that all non-Fenachrone must be destroyed. This convinces the heroes that the Fenachrone must be wiped out too, and they blow up their planet and destroy the fleeing ship full of survivors.
      • The Chlorans are the Fenachrone writ large, having conquered multiple galaxies and exterminated the native inhabitants. They are destroyed by having every star in their control go nova at once.
  • Ender's Game: Subverted with both sides due to a major misconception. The buggers, being a hive-mind, didn't realize that humans were individually sentient. When they realized their mistake after killing millions of humans they felt so guilty that they let humanity wipe them out with the exception of one pupal Queen. On the other hand, when Ender destroyed the bugger homeworld, he believed it was merely a simulation and so felt no guilt about his actions until he learned after the fact that he had committed xenocide for real. Card's later Ender books establish a scale of "alienness" between individuals and species, where on the farthest end of alienness it becomes possible to acknowledge that avoidance or xenocide are the only options for interaction between species because they simply cannot comprehend one another. The moral burden is upon the would-be exterminator to make certain there's no way to communicate with (or just avoid) the other species before committing to the extermination war, however.
  • Forest Kingdom: In the Hawk & Fisher spinoff series' book 6 (The Bones of Haven), the villains are willing to sacrifice anything, even their own lives, to their cause — the total destruction of the kingdom of Outremer, and of the Low Kingdoms with it.
  • In The High King, Taran uses the sword Drynwyn to kill off all of the Cauldron Born, previously thought to be unkillable (when he ran through one of them, all of them fell at once because Dyrnwyn actually broke the curse that kept them undead). Since the Cauldron Born were made from the dead being dragged into undead servitude, this is portrayed as a Mercy Kill. The very end of the story also reveals that all of the gwythaints were dead as well. This is mentioned in passing, which is a bit jarring when one remembers that the gwythaints distinctly weren't an evil species and only served Arwan through him torturing them as fledglings and that Taran is pretty easily able to win the loyalty of one by sparing its life and healing its hurt wing.
  • The war against the Pitar in the Humanx Commonwealth novel Dirge becomes this unintentionally. When they are exposed as having murdered every human on a colony planet and extracted the females' reproductive organs, they retreat to their fortified home system and fight to the point of their own extinction. They're eventually exposed as Absolute Xenophobes who deplored the existence of "inferior" races and, without exception, chose Suicide by Cop rather than surrender to a human. The humans oblige.
  • The Inheritance Cycle. The Always Chaotic Evil Ra'zac are almost exterminated in the backstory by the riders, then finished off by the protagonist. While the morality of killing Urgals and human empire soliders is questioned, no one ever raises and issue with killing the Ra'zac. Mostly because they solely eat humans. Even ignoring the fact that they seem to take direct, perverse joy in killing humans—especially children, there isn't really room for a peace between two sentient races when one is physically required to eat the other.
  • The Iron Dream deconstructs this trope in a Does This Remind You of Anything? manner. In an Alternate History, a science fiction author named Adolf Hitler writes a popular pulp novel about a hero on a crusade to exterminate all mutants who are contaminating his race.
  • In the John Carter of Mars series, particularly the earlier books, a number of Barsoomian races and species get fought or hunted to extinction with little thought to the consequences. With Barsoom being a borderline Death World kept artificially viable by a single "atmospheric plant", there is generally an attitude that the fewer nations or species there are, the more resources will be left for the survivors.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space universe: any war among Pak protectors is one of these. The protector-stage Pak are hyper-intelligent and, at the same time, have incredibly powerful, genetically-hardwired instincts that drive them to fanatically protect their own offspring and close relatives and exterminate anything or anyone else. While the Pak can — and do — wipe out other threatening species, their killer instinct is strongest for other Pak who are not in their own bloodline, because they "smell wrong" (this also applies to their own descendants who are mutants, a relatively common occurrence on the Pak homeworld, which abounds with radiation both as a consequence of being near the galactic core and having loads of nuclear fallout from very frequent nuclear wars). Pak protectors are rational enough to form alliances with non-relatives for mutual advantage, but the very instant there is an opportunity for betrayal, a Pak will take it. The Pak have wrecked their homeworld with constant wars of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons and exotic anti-nuclear countermeasures, and biological weapons (they are quite fond of genetically-engineered plagues which sterilize certain genotypes, as unlike nukes plagues leave behind land and resources which can be seized).
    • Even when the Pak flee their homeworld ahead of the core explosion, the Pak fleet is in a constant state of war with itself, which often spills over on planetary systems on their path, which the Pak fight to plunder for supplies.
    • When a Pak Protector comes to one of their lost colonies in the outer edges of the galaxy he finds that the Protectors died off and the colonists evolved into a species that is intelligent enough to build starships before becoming Protectors, but they smell wrong so they must be exterminated. He captures one of the mutants for interrogation and accidentally turns him into a Protector, said mutant learns everything about the Paks, then kills him as a threat to his children. Fortunately human Protectors are also rational enough to realize that unrelated members of their species aren't automatically a threat.
    • Three billion years earlier the galaxy had been conquered by the Thrint, a race with the ability to telepathically brainwash any non-Thrint species. The only exception were the Tnuctipun, a race of hyper-geniuses who managed to fake being under Thrint control until they were ready to rise up. The war was one of absolute extermination, ending with the losing Thrint triggering a doomsday device that killed all multi-cellular life in the galaxy.
  • In Last and First Men the Fifth Men kill off the native Venusians without a second thought. Of course, by then Earth was dying and Venus had to be terraformed to be inhabitable. Earlier the Second Men used a bioweapon to wipe out the Martians who had been invading Earth for several thousand years, but it destroyed their civilization as well.
    • Lensman: The conflict between Civilization and Boskone is a fight to the death. Neither the Galactic Patrol nor the pirates of Boskone ever surrender to the other, and entire planets are destroyed in the conflict. The justification is that the Eddorians (the beings behind Boskone) are completely amoral and implacable beings from another dimension who consider plundering whole universes to be not just acceptable but de rigueur (they did just that with the last dimension they inhabited), and their hierarchy is based upon that philosophy.
  • Lord of the Rings: The humans and elves vs the armies of Mordor. The closing section of The Hobbit talks quite pleasantly about the goblins being hunted into extinction in the Misty Mountains, without any hint that anyone could have a problem with this (except, presumably, a large number of dead and therefore irrelevant goblins.) Out-of-universe, author J. R. R. Tolkien was very ambivalent about this particular plot point, and went back and forth about whether the orcs were really as Always Chaotic Evil as they seemed right up until his death.
    • Nearly every major battle in the trilogy ends in an aftermath where the surviving human enemies are taken captive and treated well, while the orcs are exterminated to the last, and unceremoniously burned. This is even brought up in Two Towers by two orcs who comment that the only way for them to survive is through Sauron's victory, even though they aren't all that fond of the Dark Lord, themselves.
  • Deconstructed in Maoyu - while the story is introduced as a very stereotypical High Fantasy with Black-and-White Morality, not only does "demons are evil" turn out to be propaganda (with demons believing the same about humans), but the Demon King believes that humans would end up worse off if they actually won. What's more, the highest ranks of the Human Church and the Blue Demon Clan (the most influential anti-demon and anti-human factions respectively) are actually working together, using the war to achieve their own objectives.
  • Midnight Tides, book five of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, opens with the tail end of a mutual extermination war between the K'Chain Che'Malle and the allied Tiste Andii and Tiste Edur forces. The K'Chain Che'Malle have just lost but it's obvious that both sides went all-out on each other, going as far as employing suicide commandos and field-spanning destructive sorceries. The reason? The Tiste didn't want any competition when they set out to settle this world and the only thing both sides would've agreed upon would've been that there's not space enough for both races' egos.
  • Monster Hunter International: The vast majority of the undead fall into this as they fall under the "humans are tasty" clause. Many other creatures do as well, like fishmen which like to lay eggs in live human beings. While the government takes this stand in general against most non-humans, they're aware that not every supernatural being are inherently incapable of getting along with people, they just use it for blackmail.
  • Old Man's War by John Scalzi initially presents humanity in a constant state of war with other species for colonies, using a similar justification to that of Starship Troopers (one of Scalzi's inspirations) in that "this galaxy ain't big enough for the two of us". But it is subverted in later books by the Conclave.
  • Pandora's Star includes an implacable hive mind whose only motivation is to be, not just the only sentient being in the universe, but the only life form at all, and has no problem wiping out humanity. Given that its entire species consists of a single individual, victory for humanity would by definition leave it extinct.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • Black Fleet Crisis: The main villains are the Yevetha, who are your typical Scary Dogmatic Aliens — they're well able to learn Basic and sent someone to meet with the New Republic, fair enough, but they only do this as the prelude to starting a war with it, in which we see that they are impossibly xenophobic and culturally narcissistic; their culture had developed and become advanced with not a single recorded speculation that there was other intelligent life in the galaxy, and First Contact only convinced them that everything else was unworthy vermin which had to be exterminated. (Granted, their first contact was with the Empire, who immediately enslaved them.) Every member of the species was prepared to die fighting, but after winning the New Republic just destroyed all of their ships and left them stranded on their world. Years later, when the Yuuzhan Vong with their similar if not quite as extreme xenophobia showed up, the Yevetha refused to submit and were hunted down and systematically killed.
    • The Bothans have this as a little-usednote  cultural practice called ar'krai. Every able Bothan is required to volunteer for military service in order to not only slay every last member of the offending group or species but grind their homeworld to dust. They declare ar'krai against the Yuuzhan Vong after perennial Obstructive Bureaucrat Borsk Fey'lya pulls a Heroic Sacrifice during the fall of Coruscant. This example actually provides a bit of Deconstruction: the rest of the Galactic Alliance isn't quite so giddy about genocide, and finds a (relatively) peaceful solution to the war. This causes some tension between pro-ar'krai Bothans (who form a political party called True Victory) and the rest of the galaxy, and possibly contributes to Bothawui seceding from the Alliance.
  • Related to the Starfire example in Tabletop Games are the novels based off it by David Weber and Steve White. In addition to the war with the Rigellians as part of the back story, there is the war with the Arachnids or Bugs. No attempt at communication succeeds and they view other sentient species as nothing more than food. The only world that is not subjected to massive orbital bombardment is the homeworld of one member of the Crucian Alliance which is liberated the hard way.
  • Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein: Neither the Terran Federation or the Bugs (Arachnids) have any qualms about wiping the other out in their drive to expand across the universe. The major effort and a significant part of the plot is dedicated to capturing "brain" Bugs, in order to understand their psychology and see if it is possible to reach an understanding. It's after succeeding in this task that humans conclude that the only way to end war is to wipe Bugs from the face of the universe. This is one of the few things retained by all of the adaptations.
  • The Martians in The War of the Worlds have this attitude toward humanity; the humans are too busy being terrified and/or dying to return the sentiment. In Garrett P. Serviss's unauthorized sequel Edison's Conquest of Mars the humans fly to Mars and cheerfully wipe out the Martians who tried invading Earth. Technically it's an accident, but nobody's really bothered by the extermination of a whole species.
  • Roald Dahl's The Witches features a thoroughly horrific Mage Species as Always Chaotic Evil antagonists whose prime directive is to exterminate every child on Earth in various nightmarish ways. At the climax of the story, a boy and his grandmother hijack the witches' ultimate weapon and use it to massacre all the witches of England along with the Grand High Witch herself. The book concludes with our heroic duo laying out a plan to wipe out the rest of the world's witches using the same weapon.
  • In Wen Spencer's Wolf Who Rules, Windwolf insists on this, though feeling more qualms that he shows, because of the onis' total Lack of Empathy and the way they breed like rabbits.
  • The "Holy War" that annihilated the race of the Ghouls in E. R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros is treated that way by the polite nations of the world of Mercury. Lampshaded when Lord Gro tries to mine the genocide for anti-Demonland propaganda and is rebuked by the Red Foliot (a peaceful and mild-mannered chap), who assures him that the extermination of the Ghouls was most certainly a praiseworthy heroic. As the Ghouls were cannibal sea-raiders, it can be inferred that the Ghouls felt no different towards the other races of Mercury.
  • In Xeelee Sequence, the Xeelee have been at war with the Photino Birds for practically the entire existence of the universe, and since the two sides are composed of incompatible forms of matter (the Xeelee baryonic matter, the Photino Birds dark matter) that require the same thing to survive (stars) but in mutually exclusive forms (Xeelee need black holes, Photino Birds white dwarfs), it automatically becomes one of these since the only way for one to survive is to wipe out the other to protect their vital energy source.

    Live Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • The war between the Thals and the Kaleds would only end with one destroying the other. The Thals "won" by destroying the Kaled bunker thanks to information leaked to them by Kaled scientist Davros - who then turned his creation, the Daleks, on the Thals, thus destroying them as well.
    • The Daleks themselves are utterly convinced that every single non-Dalek lifeform in the universe must be exterminated; they are also genetically engineered to feel "no emotion but hate", and once engaged in a mutual civil war of annihilation when Davros made a new breed with only trivial, aesthetic differences between them. The Doctor himself varies on the issue; on rare occasions, he will try diplomacy or some more peaceful tactic, but on plenty of others he's more than ready to literally Kill 'Em All and is horrified when Joker Immunity kicks in and a handful — or even a lone — Dalek survives. As was said in the new series episode where the Cult of Skaro first encountered the Cybermen: "THIS IS NOT WAR! THIS IS PEST CON-TROL!"
    • The Last Great Time War seems to be this as well, from what little we know of it. The Time Lords and Daleks seemed to be out to simply destroy each other, and at some point, the Doctor decided that both sides had to be destroyed. There is, however, lots of guilt on his end due to the billions of innocent Gallifreyan lives that were lost, not to mention at least some reason to believe he was out of alternatives; the implacable nature of Daleks had already been shown, and "The End of Time" showed the Time Lords had become just as bad. The guilt is examined at length in the Milestone Celebration "The Day of the Doctor", in which the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors have to confront their past self's actions, accept them, and then Eleven's companion Clara Oswald, horrified by their acceptance, convinces them and the War Doctor that they can find another way to end the war; all of the Doctors through Twelve manage to hide Gallifrey in a pocket universe, an act that only destroys the Daleks attacking the planet at the time.
    • The audio drama Doctor Who and the Pescatons has its reliance on this trope to be one of the many reasons it's considered So Bad, It's Good - the Doctor and Sarah commit genocide against a race of shark people who are trying to find a new planet to live on after the destruction of their own world on the grounds that "they are a truly evil race", and neither show any moral conflict or remorse about it at all. This should be strongly contrasted to the Fourth Doctor's attempt to commit genocide in "Genesis of the Daleks", which was not guilt-free at all, and he was unable to go through with it.
  • The humans on Battlestar Galactica, for the most part, believe this since the Cylons themselves wiped out 99.99% of humanity in the pilot. They will frequently torture and kill captured Cylons because they're "just machines" and don't really feel pain. People who object are typically just written off as incredibly naive or crazy. Over the course of the series, however, this attitude decreases to the point where some rebellious Cylons ultimately perform a Heel–Face Turn and turn against their leader, the Big Bad Brother Cavil, and form an alliance with the humans.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Stargate SG-1: the Replicators are (initially) non-sentient, will consume anything and everything to replicate, and the only way to stop them for good is to destroy them, so the war with them inevitably becomes this. A different type of Replicators appear in Stargate Atlantis, and this applies to them as well.
    • Stargate Atlantis: the fight against the Wraith is generally seen as an us-or-them game as well — the Wraith certainly aren't out to kill all humans, and in fact go out of their way to use non-lethal weaponry unless a human civilization particularly resists or threatens them... but that's only because humans are their food supply, and treat a war with us as being like a farmer fighting his own cattle. Later on, Dr. Beckett develops a virus that turns Wraith into humans, but it wears off without regular boosters and is nigh-impossible to deliver. Even later the Replicators and renegade Asgard force the Atlantis expedition into multiple Enemy Mine situations with one Wraith faction and at one point offer them an experimental treatment that would allow them to live without feeding on humans. However, Col. Sheppard points out that even if they manage to convince the Wraith to take the drug, certainly taking complete destruction of their species off the table, the Wraith might decide to enslave the humans in their galaxy instead like the Goa'uld did in the Milky Way.
  • Scorpius spends a lot of time in the later seasons of Farscape trying to convince Crichton that the Scarrans want to wipe out or enslave everyone, and have to be stopped by any means necessary. Considering that they started wiping out as many species as possible during "The Peacekeeper Wars", Scorpius was probably right. But then Crichton figures out a third way that actually ends the war with all sides still intact...including his, which was his big motivation for pulling it off.
  • Game of Thrones: The "War for Dawn" and the "Long Night", which occurred thousands of years in the past, was fought between the King of the North and the White Walkers and their undead army. It ended in a defeat for the Walkers and forced them to retreat back to their arctic homeland, but they eventually return for another war against the living. There's literally no possibility of a truce and this war will only end when one side is completely obliterated since the White Walkers are essentially a Living Weapon gone wrong and their only purpose is to kill every man, woman, and child.
  • Falling Skies: In the finale, Tom kills the Espheni Queen, and it's indicated that the entire Espheni race is wiped out, down to the last one. Its also indicated that all the Skitters (who mind you are slaves) are also wiped out. This is treated as a completely good thing.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "Promised Land", humanity is practically extinct twelve generations after the Tsal-Khan conquest of Earth. The few remaining former slaves who escaped from the android-run concentration camp in "The Camp" are possibly the last surviving humans. Officially, the humans attacked them even though they came with gifts and in peace, so the Tsel-Khan largely believe it was justified. Dlavan tells his daughter Krenn however that in reality, their people attacked with no provocation, to conquer Earth for its resources. After this, they enslaved the survivors to extract them. His great-grandparents stayed on Earth to settle out of guilt, averting this for them.
    • In "Quality of Mercy" and "The Light Brigade", humanity is at war with an alien species who are determined to wipe them out. As the war progresses, the UNDF becomes convinced that the only way to defeat the aliens is to destroy their homeworld with a subatomic bomb.
  • Babylon 5 plays with it in its examples:
    • The Earth-Minbari War is initially presented as having been this for the Minbari, resulting in humanity being completely flabbergasted when the Minbari surrendered with no apparent reason on the verge of finishing off Earth's military and actually starting the extermination. It's eventually revealed that many Minbari actually realized they were going too far but felt compelled to continue until the reveal that Minbari souls apparently reincarnate in humans gave the Grey Council an excuse to stop.
    • The Dilgar War was this for almost everyone involved: the Dilgar had their sun about to go nova and they considered other races as inherently inferior, thus they tried to enslave and exterminate the League races rather than ask for help, and most of the League races were understandably furious at the Dilgar's unprovoked and apparently unmotivated aggression (the Dilgar having kept the secret about their sun being about to explode) and annihilating the planet Mitoc out of spite, and by the end of the war the only thing keeping them from exterminating all life on their homeworld from orbit was that Earth Alliance, that had saved them and kept a very large fleet, preferred to simply bring all Dilgar back to their homeworld and seize their jumpgate... Thus accidentally wiping them out when their sun went nova four years later. By the time of the series the League Races, and more than a few Narn, still feel this way toward at least some Dilgar... Thus when war criminal Jha'Dur (who earned the nickname of Deathwalker with her practices) turns out to be still alive Na'toth, aide to the Narn ambassador, tries to murder her on the spot, and Earth finds itself in trouble for having an interest at keeping her alive.
    • In the backstory, the Orieni see the Shadows and all their minions as worth of extermination for opposing the Vorlon, that they worship as their Living Gods (in spite of the Vorlon making immediately clear they're simply much older aliens), leading to an immense blunder during their war against the Centauri: already furious at the Drakh for retreating their forces and costing them a battle in a war they were already slowly losing, upon finding out they were followers of the Shadows they mobilized a large part of their fleet to sterilize their homeworld, weakening their frontline and allowing the surprised Centauri to launch an offensive nearly unopposed before the survivors of the attack to the Drakh homeworld could rejoin the main front. To make things worse, after losing the war the Orieni found out that the Drakh were actually nomadic and only a small part of them had settled on that world specifically to better manipulate the Orieni...
    • Also in the backstory, the Centauri found themselves involved in two such wars in their distant part:
      • At one point in their ancient history, the Centauri were Absolute Pacifists... Then they discovered the southern continent of their homeworld, and the Xon, who lived there, tried to exterminate the Centauri for no apparent reason, only to eventually lose and the Centauri hunt them down to the last. While the Centauri are not the most unbiased source, their descendants clearly feel no guilt about this, instead considering it a favor they did to the universe.
      • While they were still hunting down the Xon, the Centauri suffered a sudden and apparently unmotivated invasion from the alien Shroggen. After barely repelling it with the help of three passing Technomages (and having no idea the Shroggen were actually after the Technomages and would have left without fighting as long as they could take them to their masters the Shadows), the Centauri slowly developed their technology and went in space with the specific purpose to destroy the Shroggen before they could come back, not knowing that the Shadows had already done the deed for that and many other previous failures.
  • Deconstructed in the Black Mirror episode "Men Against Fire". The episode takes place ten years after The Great Offscreen War which saw the spread of the "Roaches" all across the world. They are said to have been defeated and wiped out in the US, but the country has sent troops abroad to more rural areas of the world to try and take down the remaining ones. It is then revealed that the "Roaches" are actually humans, and likely refugees who were displaced during the war, who were deemed undesirable. In order to make it so that the soldiers won't feel guilty about killing off these people, the government and military give them implants that distort their perception, making them see the "Roaches" as terrifying mutant monstrosities while turning the civilian population against them with massive amounts of propaganda.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer 40,000, nearly every single race has reasons and plans to exterminate every other race.
    • This is quite literally the Imperium's standard colonization protocol: drop a few Imperial Guard regiments, exterminate all sentient life on the new planet, ship colonists in. The stone age Tau only escaped that fate thanks to a freak warp storm.
    • The Tau don't automatically exterminate every species they come across, preferring to integrate and "adopt" other species as they discover them. Still, when they do encounter a species that they determine unfit or unable to peacefully coexist, they will ruthlessly exterminate them. Considering the galaxy they live in, this probably happens pretty frequently.
    • Tyranids exist to eat, breed and absorb the best characteristics of every species that they can get their claws on — only characteristics that facilitate those three imperatives, of course.
    • Pre-5th Edition, the Necrons served beings that wish to annihilate everything related to the Warp. The Warp is sustained in part by the emotions of living beings. Nothing more needs to be said.
      • Said beings, the C'Tan Star Gods also eat the souls of beings slain by their undead robot minions.
      • In 5th Edition, they just want to conquer and dominate to rebuild their old empire while it was retconned that they actually shattered the C'Tan to shards just after the War in Heaven in a revolt as revenge for the loss of their souls, but the Necrons are willing to wipe out all life on a colonized tomb world and also capture a lot of people for destructive scientific experiments while some Dynasties are xenophobic on top of wishing to rebuild their empire. One of the Dynasties is still ideologically omnicidal and the Flayer Virus, caused by the only actual death of a C'Tan, the Flayer, at the hands of said omnicidal Dynasty, also makes any Necron inflicted with it obsessed with gaining flesh back by skinning any sentients nearby and using the leather as a substitute. The Retcon was explained as the initial group to wake up after 60 million years to be damaged and a glitch causing them to think they still served the C'Tan. There is also the Destroyer cult, which are Necrons who, while not insane due to the Flayer Virus or due to the fact that they were awake during their 60 million year stasis, actively decided to purge biological life after waking up out of a combination of jealousy over their souls and bodies being lost to them and sheer hatred.
    • Orks vs. anyone that isn't another Ork comes down to this. Orks are strongly implied to be a bio-engineered species, essentially Super Soldiers taken to Living Weapon levels; they literally cannot understand the concept of not fighting, and so anything that isn't an Ork essentially needs to be wiped out or is so good at fighting they attract more Orks through the gestalt psychic field they have that was given to them by the Old Ones when they were made (wholesale as an artificial species, along with the Eldar) to fight in the War in Heaven against the Necrons (after the Necrontyr sold their souls to the C'Tan, the aforementioned beings who want to annihilate the warp and post 5th Edition are shards of their former selves controlled by the Necrons, and became the Necrons). There's admittedly no malice to it, they're essentially a whole species who think "fighting is super awesome fun!" and don't understand that other races don't think this way. Other races, accordingly, treat Orks as the ultimate form of dangerous vermin, a pestilence that needs to be eradicated wherever it appears. Given the fact Orks multiply like crazy (depends on the edition, but the implication is that they way outnumber everybody else save for possibly the Tyranids), they have a point.
    • The forces of Chaos are on the receiving and giving end as well. A vast majority consists of Imperial traitors or descendants of such separatists so the Imperium already despises them even without the whole selling out your soul to Dark Gods that want to rule everything and makes you into various forms of psychopaths or obsessive lunatic that is a parody of your former self thing. The Lost and the Damned in turn consider every war to be a guilt free extermination war, after all, the Dark Gods care not for such petty concepts like basic decency or reason.
  • Starfire by Task Force Games: The Third Interstellar War between the Alliance (Terrans and Khanate of Orion) vs. the fanatically racist and warlike Rigelian Protectorate. The Rigelians were determined to wipe out the Alliance, and the Alliance was forced to destroy the Rigelians completely to eliminate them as a threat.
    • Later in the timeline comes the Fourth Interstellar War, which puts all the new races and people introduced against the Arachnid Omnivoracity, a Horde of Alien Space Locusts.
  • Magic: The Gathering deals with this whenever Phyrexians get involved, especially in Invasion and Scars of Mirrodin blocks.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Blood War between the Lawful Evil devils/baatezu and the Chaotic Evil demons/tanar'ri, it's been raging for millenia and is unlikely to end until and unless one or both sides gets totally exterminated. Which is fortunate for everybody else because the fiends could probably wipe out the celestials and everybody else in the multiverse if they weren't so busy fighting each other.
    • Beholders with even the slightest morphological differences from one another will always try to destroy one another out of pure, uncompromising bigotry.
    • It's glossed over quite often, but humanity and its allied races are engaged in one with almost every sentient evil-aligned creature in the books. In some cases (such as the neogi, illithids, and vampires), it's a justified trope: only their extinction will spare humanity from a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Eberron: Per Word of God, this was the reason they invented the Emerald Claw. Of course, because Eberron is Gray-and-Gray Morality world that averts Always Chaotic Evil, the Emerald Claw are not a species or culture, they're an unaligned terrorist organization. The only people working for the Emerald Claw are those who want to bring about an empire of undeath under the rule of the Queen of the Dead. Their leader, Lady Illmarrow, does in fact have a Freudian Excuse... but since the Claw don't know it, they don't even get the benefit of being Tragic Villains.
    Keith Baker: So focusing specifically on the Emerald Claw, it's INTENTIONAL that everyone hates them, that they don't have the support of nations, that they can't field an army. They are a terrorist force that can appear anywhere to cause chaos, but they DON'T have the power to, for example, conquer a nation (or even a large city). If you oppose them, YOU aren't making an enemy of a nation or choosing a side in the Next War.
  • Frequent in 3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars. Because it's us or them.
  • In GURPS Reign of Steel this is the attitude of most of the Zonemind computers toward humanity (if not all living things) — and the attitude of nearly all surviving humans toward the Zoneminds. The only major exceptions are the inhabitants of the British Isles, whose Zonemind ignores them so long as they don't get in its way (the British government can compare with the other Zones nearby, so they know this is pretty much the best situation they could have) and the inhabitants of the eastern US, who think their "tame" Zonemind is a loyal servant and protector (they're wrong about the first, and wrong about the reasons for the second).
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the Garou war against the Wyrm is framed as this. The Wyrm and its minions are depicted as depraved, irredeemable, and determined to destroy Gaia, making the Garou's savage tactics understandable.
    • One of the game's most depraved antagonists was the Seventh Generation, a Wyrm cult that abducts children and uses them as human sacrifices. After ascending the throne, King Albrecht orchestrated a Garou slaughter of Seventh Generation devotees, virtually wiping out the cult.
    • The line still subverts it, though. While the forces who've fallen to the Wyrm need killing yesterday, it's made clear the Garou have had times where they haven't been able to tell the difference between "fallen to the Wyrm," "Wyrm-tainted," and "smells of the Wyrm." And yes, there are differences there. As a result, their tactics have resulted in a genocidal war that eliminated some of their closest allies and alienated all the others, as well as the destruction of one of their own tribes, events that they have plenty of guilt over.

    Video Games 
  • Total Annihilation: Both factions use this and have to be sure they've wiped the other side out or they'll just rebuild with nanotechnology. The campaign demonstrates this, since you begin with the last commander unit in the last base on the last held planet and tear apart the entire enemy faction from there.
    • The add-on campaign demonstrates it further; the previous campaign's canonical ending is with Arm victorious and Core destroyed to the last unit. But the Universe is a big place, and Core have hidden away a lone Commander as a contingency plan in case of an Arm victory. He promptly activates and the Forever War reignites.
  • In Mass Effect, variations of this trope are played a few different ways.
    • The rachni were hunted to extinction. (Deconstruction; they were a peaceful race until they were brainwashed by the Reapers—or possibly the Leviathan.)
    • The turians and salarians used a Depopulation Bomb to end the Krogan Rebellion. Defied; the genophage was made specifically to avoid this trope and was originally intended by the salarians to be a deterrent. What the salarians, impeccably practical as they are, seem not to have anticipated is that the krogans would get so demoralised by having their fertility cut to 1% (which, given how long-lived the krogans are, was calculated to ensure a steady population) of its natural level that most of them gave up on reproducing altogether; they either didn't know or overlooked that the plague produced a lot of dead newborn krogan (according to the krogan Clan Weryloc speaker in Mass Effect 2). Mordin Solus, a salarian scientist who helped restore the genophage at a time when the krogans seemed to be recovering from it, comes to feel extremely guilty about it when he realises that the krogan species is essentially dying out from collective depression.
    • Shepard is personally responsible for wiping out the Collectors. (Reconstruction; they were sentient once, but are now mindless. However, some do appear in multiplayer after the suicide mission)
    • Shepard is forced to choose Heel–Face Brainwashing or destroying the heretic geth. (Zig-zagged, Played for Drama. Neither side is really portrayed as morally right or wrong (although one gives you Paragon points and the other Renegade points). Killing them does make the Golden Ending easier to get in 3 though.)
    • In general, there's a standing order in Council Space that all AIs are to be terminated on sight. The exceptions are those which are authorized by controversial research companies such as Synthetic Insights. Knowing that every organic in the galaxy is united to kill them without a second thought, many synthetic creatures, such as the geth, adopt a similar "shoot first and ask questions later" policy.
    • The above two are combined when the quarians throw their entire race into a final war with the geth. Somebody is getting wiped out, and both sides' hands are so bloody nobody feels too bad about it afterwards either way, maybe bar the deaths of Tali, Zaal'Koris, and Legion. There is a third route where they make peace, but it requires a lot of work and an Old Save Bonus to pull off.
    • The Reapers, the central antagonists of the original trilogy, openly view all other species as bacteria, fit only to be purged, enslaved or — in "worthy" cases — processed into genetic paste to build a new Reaper. (Subverted in the Control and Synthesis endings of Mass Effect 3; played straight in the Destroy and Refusal endings.)
  • The only option (other than Assimilation Plague) in Sword of the Stars before the second expansion added psychology techs that allow a player to force a planet to surrender after just one or two nukes.
  • In Star Fox Assault the Aparoids are exterminated without a second thought. And in at least some of the possible endings to Command the Anglar are presumably wiped out as well (considering their homeworld is terraformed in a couple of endings).
  • In Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, pretty much everyone who brings up the subject considers the Lombaxes the "Saviors of the Universe" for completely wiping out the Cragmites. Granted, it turns out they actually sent them to another universe, but no one else knew that.
  • Starcraft: the Zerg are a race burdened with a hard-coded biological imperative, instilled by the Xel'naga, to assimilate and destroy other species. The absolute best that could possibly be done short of true extermination is destroying the Overmind to reduce them to merely very dangerous animals. Turned on its head when it turns out the Overmind intentionally got itself killed to place Kerrigan as its successor and finally relieve the Zerg of this compulsion, and on top of that they may be the only thing standing between the other races and Amon, a rogue Xel'naga that will otherwise destroy all life in the galaxy — the Overmind executed this gambit because otherwise, the Zerg would be enslaved and destroy all other life, then be destroyed in turn by him once they stopped being useful.
  • Halo: The Human-Covenant war is mostly this, with the Covenant going to far as to completely destroy each human planet they encounter since their Prophets have declared that humanity should be wiped out. However, there are still many Covenant members with no real ill-will against humanity, with some even wondering why the Prophets haven't already asked humanity to join the Covenant instead. This trope starts to go away once the Covenant's Elites get betrayed by the Prophets (with many being forced to team up with humanity) and the Covenant religion itself is shown to be a lie; nowadays, while tensions remain, the majority of those left from both sides have no wish to wipe each other out, with many finding ways to even cooperate. Played thoroughly straight by anyone who has to fight the Flood.
  • In Perfect Dark, Joanna teams up with the Maians in the last two levels to exterminate all the Skedar fanatics. This is not remotely depicted as a bad thing because they have a Hive Mind and can't be reasoned with.
  • The Human-Locust War in Gears of War is one of these. The Locust want to exterminate humanity so they can have the surface of Sera, and the humans want to exterminate the Locust in self-defense. The Lambent also get in on this when they show up, making it a three-way Guilt-Free Extermination War.
  • The war against the Kreegan in Heroes of Might and Magic III: Armageddon's Blade becomes this after Erathia drops out. The remaining anti-Kreegan forces are well aware that the 'Devils' are a severe threat to the world (even if they aren't aware of the full scope of the threat), and finishing the war to the bitter end is really the only long-term option, while the Kreegans built the titular Armageddon's Blade to burn the world. Even before Erathia dropped out, the problems the nobles had with a campaign of extermination wasn't the extermination, but rather the cost in troops and gold.
  • In Wing Commander, the Confederation-Kilrathi war was this for the Kilrathi from the start, and for the humans it became so after the Kilrathi faked a desire for peace in order to build up a massive fleet that was used to completely sterilize several planets, with Earth on the list for the same treatment before being pushed back as shown in the novel Fleet Action.
  • The gameplay of the Warcraft games generally play this straight. To win you typically have to annihilate the enemy force down to the last peasant worker and farm and they'll do the same to you if given the chance. In-story the Alliance refused to wipe out the remaining Orcs when the war was lost, but the survivors were so dispirited that attempts to coexist with them failed utterly and they ended up in internment camps until Thrall led an uprising.
  • World of Warcraft's quests often boil down to this. There are some specific examples in the story.
    • Used in Cataclysm with the evil Black Dragon's being rendered extinct by Wrathion; apparently the only uncorrupted Black Dragon.
    • Mists Of Pandaria plays this straight with the formerly neutral Zandalar tribe and the Mogu.
  • Operation Final Fury in X3: Terran Conflict is a military operation between three separate races to completely wipe out a hostile race of Bee People - the Kha'ak. The player helps out as a mercenary and is the one to kill off the Kha'ak Hive Queen. By the time Albion Prelude takes place, the Kha'ak are totally absent - the only sign of them are their abandoned ships drifting through space. Which conveniently allows the Argon Federation to focus its resources into trying to kill off the Earth State, which they start by blowing up the Torus Aeternal defense station which encircles Earth's equator, causing it to de-orbit and kill tens of millions. The Terrans respond in kind by obliterating any Argon ships and stations they come across. The war becomes so brutal and apocalyptic - and the Xenon fleets, now ignored, were allowed to expand exponentially - that the Ancients shut down the jumpgate network, grinding the war - and interstellar civilization - to complete stop instantaneously.
  • In this amazing game of Civilization II which has been running on and off for the past ten years, the world has descended into a nightmarish dystopia which proves undeniably that War Is Hell. There are three main factions — the Americans, the Vikings, and the Celts — who are locked into a brutal, genocidal, fight to the death and have been for the past 1,700 years. All attempts at peace or even Enemy Mine situations fail miserably with the AI sides betraying and attacking the player and each other scant moments after a cease-fire or agreement is signed, the constant nuclear war has killed 90% of the world's population and reduced the Earth's surface to radioactive swampland, the polar ice caps have melted 20 times so far, and large cities and improvements are a thing of the past because all available resources go to fueling the war effort and any city that does grow large is likely to be nuked.
  • In Guild Wars Prophecies this is the nature of the war between the Charr and humans. The Charr are all too willing to wipe out all three human nations on the continent and use the survivors as slaves and entertainment while the humans view the Charr as little more than dangerous animals. Even after the Shamans were overthrown, the Charr persisted in a war to drive out the remaining Ascalonians for over two centuries. It took the appearance of the Elder Dragons to stop the fighting and some hardliners on both sides have decided to keep the war going. The Mursaat were willing to kill anyone who refused to submit to their control, resulting in an all-out war between the White Mantle and the free people of Tyria. In the end, nearly the entire Mursaat race was exterminated along with the majority of the Mantle.
  • Killing Floor: The zeds are clone soldiers who are all designed to be homicidally insane, especially towards the civilians, so feel free to take them out with every sadistic implement you can 3D-print. Even the clearly-sentient bosses can copy their minds indefinitely, so killing them just means they'll come back after at least four waves.
  • If the two Progenitor factions are present in a game of Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, this will always be the result. Unlike the human factions, who can overlook ideological differences for pragmatic reasons such as global politics, good trade relations and technology sharing, the Progenitors have their aggression hard-coded into their AI. They will never stop fighting, and will sink every available asset into grinding the other faction into dust.
  • In Stellaris, this is pretty much your only option if your galactic neighbors are a Hive Mind with the "Devouring Swarm" trait, or a machine empire with the "Determined Exterminator" trait (unless you're a machine empire yourself). Such star-nations have Hard-Coded Hostility, limiting their diplomatic options with other races to insults, declarations of rivalry, or declarations of war. The endgame crisis factions - the Unbidden, Prethoryn Scourge, or the Contingency - as well as the End of the Cycle should someone be stupid enough to make a bargain with it, are even more limited, and are simply in a state of perpetual war with everyone else. Empires with the Fanatical Purifiers civic also have Hard-Coded Hostility but other empires that conquer their planets can attempt to integrate their populations (though it is difficult).
  • Doom: You can't get a much more objectively evil enemy than literal demons whose only desire is to inflict pain, horror, and suffering for no reason. Not once has the Doom series suggested that the Legions of Hell are anything other than pure evil incarnate, therefore there is no moral quandary with chainsawing and shotgunning them to death by the thousands. Later games even suggest it's a form of Mercy Kill, given how they are created.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse: Dagda has no qualms removing all gods; in particular, by creating a new universe where they don't exist. He'll also gladly order the mass murder of humans who believe in gods, as the power of humanity's observation of gods is what allows those gods to exist. If you pursue his ending, he too disappears as the new universe is created, happy to be just another aspect of nature.
  • No More Heroes III appears to have one; unlike prior games in the series, the main adversaries are not ordinary human assassins who fight for personal reasons, but aliens who fancy themselves as superheroes and are hell-bent on conquering the Earth, with their leader FU having a city razed to declare his intent. So, the player would presumably not need to feel sorry about killing them.
  • In The New Order Last Days Of Europe, the endgame objective for Omsk (should they unify Russia) is to push through the Great Trial, a final war to destroy the Third Reich and wipe the German people from the face of the Earth, in the name of vengeance for twenty years of atrocities committed against the Russian people. As both sides have nuclear weapons and are willing to use them, Failure Is the Only Option.

    Web Animation 
  • Dingo Doodles: It is revealed that this is the reason why the Foreclaimers disappeared. They created an artificial god named Xanu and then performed cruel experiments on him. Xanu came to the conclusion that the Foreclaimers needed to be destroyed because their Lack of Empathy made them capable of horrible atrocities. So he took control of their machines and attempted to wipe them out. He was only partially successful, as they excaped from him by opening a massive portal to another plane, which slamed shut on Xanu as he was chasing them and shattered him into pieces. His goal now that he has mostly reformed himself is to open the portal and finish them off.

  • In Stand Still, Stay Silent, a Plague Zombie apocalypse has seemingly made the Nordic countries humanity's last bastion, and even said bastion has gone through a massive Depopulation Bomb because of it. Humanity's remaining soldiers hence have few qualms about literally burning down Plague Zombie winter dwellings in the process of land reclamation and shooting any residents that escape the fire. On top of this, the Meat Puppet situation of plague victims means that killing the monsters they have become is a Mercy Kill.
  • Humans in Freefall have seriously considered nuking Sam Starfall's homeword fearing that the Sqids may be a threat to humanity if they ever got off their planet because their hat is kleptomania, and also because the sight of them makes humans sick. Sam points out that Sqids are no threat to humans because if humans wanted to wipe them out, they wouldn't have to use nukes, they could easily destroy the Sqid planet's ecosystem just by introducing a few invasive species such as ants.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Pandora views the extermination of werewolves this way though Adrian Raven does not. The near total extermination of Aberrations is probably viewed as this given how irredemable they are.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Highbreed from Ben 10: Alien Force were convinced they were more "pure" than every other organism, and thus intended to wipe them out. Of course other space-faring species caught on to this and had no mercy in dealing with the Highbreed in return. Ben found a way to Play With this trope and resolve the issue: he used the Omnitrix to graft alien DNA into all the Highbreed, leaving them no longer "pure" Highbreed and removing the rationale for their Extermination War. In a sense, they were wiped out as Highbreed to resolve the conflict; they just got new lives as hybrids instead of having to die en masse.
  • The Dreamstone is an understated case. Zordrak frequently threatened to kill off more Urpney minions the longer he had to wait for the Dreamstone and his enemies to be annihilated (and early on was perfectly willing to act on that). Only once have members of both sides thought of joining forces to get him out of both their hair, otherwise they both tend to think the other is quite cruel for not accepting the brunt of his wrath for their sake. Later episodes tried to underplay the Urpneys' lethal stakes, likely so the heroes could look more morally superior.
  • Rick and Morty In the season 4 episode "Promortyus", Rick and Morty wake up after having had their bodies taken over by PuppeteerParasites. While killing a whole bunch of people or aliens is pretty standard for them anyways, they actually enjoy the violent rampage they go on during thier escape in this case. ("It's like popping bubble wrap!"). Being Rick and Morty, this is subverted when they are forced to return to the planet and deal with the aftermath.
  • In an episode of Amphibia, Hop Pop faces off against a sapient parasitic fungus (named Gary) who wants to spread himself by infecting every other living thing and turning them into People Puppets. When Hop Pop has Gary at his mercy, the mushroom begs for his life (through the mouth of his host), saying he is the last of his kind, and if he's killed, his species will be forever extinct. Of course, Hop Pop has little sympathy for Gary, and feeds the mushroom to his giant pet snail.