Follow TV Tropes


Humans Are Diplomats

Go To

"Humans share one unique quality: They build communities. If the Narns or Centauri or any other race built a station like this, it would be used only by their own people. But everywhere humans go, they create communities out of diverse and sometimes hostile populations. It is a great gift, and a terrible responsibility — one that cannot be abandoned."
Delenn, Babylon 5

The polar opposite of Humans Are Warriors, the idealistic reason why Humans Are Special and the reason why Humans are Leaders: Humans are diplomats when compared to other races. They make friends easily, and have a talent for negotiations. Humans tend to favor the diplomatic approach, especially when compared to the Proud Warrior Race. Because humans have such a diplomatic talent, it's the reason they invariably are part of The Federation if it exists. This preference for diplomacy over violence can also be one of the reasons why Humans Are Good.

In video or Tabletop games this may overlap with Humans Are Average - rather than getting powerful bonuses and penalty, humans are given small perks to diplomacy-related skills.

Of course Humans Are Diplomats and Humans Are Warriors, though opposite, need not exclude one another. After all Humans Are Special and "Speak softly and carry a big stick" was coined by humans.


    open/close all folders 

    Fan Works 
  • In Chrysalis Visits The Hague, the UN presence in Equestria is this. Though, for all intents and purposes, they're not very good ones, being caught somewhere between ineffective appeasement and internal squabbling.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Mars Attacks!, humans repeatedly try to make peace with the Martians. It always backfires, as they are only interested in killing everyone for fun.
  • In the film version of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, it's the people of Earth who found Alpha, the space colony where much of the movie takes place. The Earthlings who run Alpha welcome all sapient lifeforms who want to live there and are free to attach and build in the styles they want (provided they don't interfere with the other inhabitants' ability to live), which the film suggests was the first undertaking of this kind in existence. Over time, it grew into by far the most diverse civilization in the known universe.

  • In Alan Dean Foster's Design For Great-Day, humans have this role. It's suggested that this is due to humans having an exceptional flair with language (being able to "talk the legs off a crocodile and insult its parentage in the process").
  • In the the Sergey Lukyanenkonote  short story Negotiators, supposedly inexperienced humans are so good at communicating with aliens that the aliens are scared. Since humans deny having any previous contacts with extraterrestrials, aliens start suspecting that humans did contact someone — and exterminated them. The hero manages to convince the alien negotiator that this flexibility is the result of humans being the hybrid of species with vastly different psychology — Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons. The alien negotiator and most humans would not accept the true reason: the psychological difference between male and female humans is far greater than for any other sentient species, thus humans are much better prepared to accept others' quirks and work around them.
  • In Keith Laumer's Retief books, humans operate the Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne, which is dedicated to adjudicating contentions between non-terrestrials and Earthlings. Although the CDT seems to succeed less due to its diplomatic prowess than from Retief's unconventional approaches...
    • The other reason that the CDT succeeds is because no one wants to see the Terrans break out their stick. The CDT because a bad deal is less damaging to one's career than calling in the navy, and the aliens because Humans Are Warriors, too.
  • In parts of Star Wars Legends, this trope seems to come up. Humanity is not the galaxy's most diplomatic species, and individuals vary wildly, but there's a joke that goes "How do you know a [species] is lying? Their mouth is open", in which [species] is filled in by Hutts, Bothans, or humans. There are a lot of places where humans are the only/majority population though, so it'd be plain stupid to send a Bothan diplomat to Kashyyyk, or a Trandoshan one to Naboo.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Stated outright by the Minbari ambassador Delenn as the reason that only humans could have built Babylon 5 - "Humans build communities."
    • She likes this so much, she becomes part human herself with that cocoon thing, and then marries and has the child of John Sheridan. Of course, it helps that she needed all that in order to be come one-third of The One.
    • Humanity's hat is so big that when Humanity is threatened by a civil war, the other races (including some that are rivals or were at war) form an alliance to support and help the humans (and the rest of the galaxy) because the prospect of losing Humanity's moderating, diplomatic voice is unacceptable.
  • The Hexer: Vesimir, being in the series an old human druid, prefers to use diplomacy instead of swords to resolve conflict with the elves living around Kaer Morhen. His insistance of talking first, killing maybe is one of the factors leading to the reveal of Gwidon's conspiracy and getting him expelled.
  • Humans in Star Trek pretty much run The Federation, and the Federation has been shown to be by far the most diplomacy-inclined power in the Alpha Quadrant, especially when compared to the Proud Warrior Race Klingons, Mustache-Twirling Roman-wannabe Romulans, or Fascist Cardassians. It's notable that the Federation is pretty much the only Alpha Quadrant power that is formed from a coalition.
    • Taken to an extreme in Star Trek: The Next Generation, where the Klingons call upon the human captain of the Federation flagship, Jean-Luc Picard, to decide the next leader of the Klingon council. There are valid reasons for them not to trust their own people, of course, but even so...
    • Star Trek: Enterprise shows that it was the humans who brought the other founding races of the Federation together. The Vulcans and Andorians had been at war, and neither were very fond of the Tellarites, or vice versa...

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • This overlaps with Humans Are Average - humans have average stats and they can learn any language at character creation, a trait shared with partially human races like Half-Elves.
    • In 3rd Edition at least, Half-Elves Are Diplomats even more than humans (or elves), being the only race to receive inherent bonuses to social skills. Which, admittedly, aren't very large, but dedicated "Diplomancer" builds are almost always half-elves.
  • Played with in Warhammer 40,000. The Imperium of Man is just about the least subtle, least tolerant, least diplomatic and most xenophobic bunch of humans you're ever likely to meet. Diplomacy, for the Imperium, is indulged in solely to keep alien races busy until sufficient military force can be mustered to obliterate them. But it's also mentioned that back before the Imperium, when humans first started moving amongst the stars nearly 30,000 years ago, they DID manage to create a Federation of nearly a hundred species... only to discover that it was the fear of Humanity's powerful technology and military that kept it together. After the War with the Iron Men was over, a crippled humanity was turned on by every other Federation species. The Tau, an upcoming race near the Ultramar systems, fit this trope more neatly and are viewed by the older, more advanced races as unbelievably stupid and naive for even trying.
  • In Myriad Song humans were favored slaves of the Syndics, and often used as overseers. So they apply their Legacy stat to social and leadership skills.

    Video Games 
  • In the Master of Orion series, Humans by default have the "charismatic" trait, which gives a bonus to diplomacy rolls. Furthermore, they have no racial rivals, unlike every other species in the game (at least in the first two). They have, according to the third game's manual, twice dominated the galaxy, forming allied fleets to take down both the Orion Guardian and Antares. They did this not through military conquest, but by convincing everyone else to work for them.
  • The same happens in Galactic Civilizations 2, Humans are stated with bonuses to negotiation.
    • The fluff plays with this. Humans got to be so good at negotiation because as a race, they were unusually factional until reaching space; the other side of this is they are just as exceptionally practiced at killing each other when negotiations fail. The one other race that has figured this out is terrified of humanity for that reason.
  • In Space Rangers humans are this.
  • The humans in World of Warcraft have a bonus to reputation with any faction, both reflecting and reproducing this.
    • In the game's lore. It's stated that the humans of the Alliance are the only thing keeping the races within it together.
      • Which makes you wonder, 'who serves to keep the Horde from falling apart?' Probably the Tauren.
      • It's because the Orcs are more or less acting as dictators of the horde by both being there first and outnumbering everyone else, shown in their racial "Command".
  • In The Elder Scrolls, this is one of the hats of the Imperial race, who have forged three empires throughout history that have spanned much or all of Tamriel. They are known to be skilled diplomats (showing in in-game as bonuses to the Speechcraft skill and/or racial abilities that act as Calm or Command spells). While the strength of their legions obviously played a large part in forging their empires, it is their ability as diplomats that has kept these empires together.
  • DEADLOCK, semi-obscure sci-fi empire-builder. Several races, and humans are diplomats and traders, with bonuses for making peace-treaties and establishing trade-routes.
    • ...and the ability to send infantry into a tank-munching berserker mode in battle. Wait, what?
  • Final Fantasy XII. So, so much. The entire game is about diplomacy, with the 12-year-old Lord Larsa Solidor (a diplomatic genius) running around the continent getting the various races to help him bring peace. The other races pretty much don't care until he shows up.
  • Mass Effect has humanity as the most diplomatic race, with all the backstabbing and double-dealing that proper diplomacy implies. Dig into the codex and you'll see that every other race, to some degree or another, has a leadership caste and societies that have made obedience to proper authority second nature to them. When humanity, with its every-man-for-himself ethos, hits the galactic stage, nobody really seems to know how to deal with it. The rules are right there, and everyone else has followed them, and then the humans show up and start taking shortcuts that nobody else even considered. This has lead to Humanity getting a representative on the ruling Council less than a century after they made first contact; other races have gone for millenia as clients to the previous three Council races.
    • To be fair, though, the asari are the ones with the interstellar reputation for diplomatic ability and cultural outreach; humanity, by comparison, is still rather supremacist.
    • It seems that the asari have the most experience dealing with other races, and are viewed neutrally to well by the other races, but they're a bit too complacent. Humanity is dynamic, forward thinking and creative, but still engender and harbour a fair amount of xenophobia.
    • A Paragon Shepard can actually end the 300-year-old Quarian-Geth War by browbeating the two into submission.
  • Stellaris is a somewhat Downplayed example of this trope. The United Nations of Earth is one of the preset human empires in the game whose default behavior is Federation Builders, meaning they will favor creating galactic federations based on mutual benefit to all members, and they start with the Xenophile ethos which favors good relations with other alien empires. On the other hand, the other preset human empire is the Commonwealth of Man, a highly militaristic and xenophobic empire born from a previous interstellar colonization effort by the UNE gone awry whose survivors have spent decades trying to survive against a harsh and unforgiving environment. And in Stellaris, the ethics of a given polity can shift due to events, so the UNE could drift away from being Federation Builders towards something less altruistic over time (by the same token the reverse can also happen, though given the nature of events that tend to happen in a given campaign this is rarer — the game is described as "starting out as Star Trek and ending as Warhammer 40K.")
  • Stonekeep, if the only human playable character is any indication. Let's put it this way: the game's dwarves are biased against every other existing race except humans, and representatives from a good half of the other races will join you.
  • In the Star Trek game Birth Of The Federation, The opening for the United Federation of Planets actually states this:
    "Always remember that expansion is achieved by diplomacy, not by the military."
    • Backed up by the fact that the Federation in this game is human (that is, the colonising and starting species of the Federation are humans, just as the Romulan Star Empire has Romulans, the Cardassian Union Cardassians, etc) and that the Federation gets big boosts to its relationship with minor races (it is possible to peacefully convince minor races to become members of your empire in this game, which the Federation has an easier time doing than any of the other major powers).
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X has the forging of new alliances between humans and various xenos forming a major part of the story and quests. Humans do this primarily on account of having recently fled a destroyed Earth and having run into the Ganglion, the evil coalition responsible for said destruction, on Mira; they desperately need all the allies they can get. It also helps that many of these new allies were former members of the Ganglion who changed sides because the humans were much nicer.
  • In Terra Invicta, the Protectorate and Academy take this approach to the Alien Invasion: they seek to negotiate a peace. The Protectorate have little faith in humanity, believe fighting the aliens is hopeless, and favor a negotiated surrender, while the Academy believes that humanity can prove their worth and offer equitable terms from a position of strength after beating back the invasion force.

  • This is a point of fascination for many of the Trolls in Homestuck. Sure, humans may be a bunch of wimps who haven't built a galaxy-conquering empire or developed time-travelling IM clients, and they may be completely screwing up at creating a new universe... but human society seems so much nicer, and the Kids are really good at the whole "friendship" thing. The stand-out example of one of the Kids being diplomatic with a Troll is probably John with Vriska.
  • A variant appears in Vexxarr, where the Mahakalosians explain to a human that they chose humanity as allies because they are explorers and most emphatically not warriors. True warrior cannot ever cooperate, but humans will cooperate readily, and they never deliberately seek to exterminate those they fight against. They do note that humanity does have problems trusting, which makes them less diplomatic than they could be.
  • As stated by Sam Starfall in Freefall:
    "Humans are weird when facing threats. You like turning enemies into allies. Large carnivore around the campfire? It's now a guardian and pet. Dangerous chemicals that go boom? Use them for power and construction. Herpes virus? Tweak a couple of genes and now it fights cancer. If humans wanted to make a realistic alien invasion movie, aliens would attack the Earth and two years later they would be working for you and trying to figure out how the heck that happened."

    Western Animation 
  • There is a variant of this in Ben 10: Though humans show great affinity for appealing to other races on an emotional level, it's actually Required Secondary Powers to their true unique skill, which is that humans are universal breeders, able to mate and bear offspring with any other intelligent species in the universe.
    • It's because of our empathetic nature that Azmuth entrusted the Tennysons with the Omnitrix in the first place, as he created it to be a tool for diplomacy, and Ben's Grandpa Max was the only person in the universe he trusted to wield it before he met Ben.
  • Steven Universe: Informed by Word of God. When asked what kind of Gem Connie Maheswaran would be, Rebecca Sugar replied a teal Gem — green for her fighting and blue for her diplomacy. invoked