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Humans Are Good

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"Man's goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished."

In a Speculative Fiction setting in which there are other species running around, human beings are Always Lawful Good paragons of virtue (most of them anyway). It is up to them to fight off the Horde of Alien Locusts, defend everyone (even other aliens) from the Scary Dogmatic Aliens and convince the Space Elves to step off their lofty pedestal and use their special technology to help other races.

Since Most Writers Are Human (and readers/viewers/etc. too for that matter) this trope is so strong in the minds of the audience that most of said audience will side with the human faction in cases of Grey-and-Grey Morality and even Evil Versus Evil.

In reality, while perhaps not always "paragons" if you will, you might be glad to know though that this, at least to some extent, can be Truth in Television.

Diametric opposite of Humans Are Bastards or Humans Are the Real Monsters, but does not always necessarily conflict with Humans Are Flawed, as nobody is perfect.

Also contrast Hobbes Was Right, which does not tend to go well with this trope. Compare Rousseau Was Right and Humans Are Special.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Scrapped Princess sees nearly every human character behave with a degree of honor and decency. Its "villains" are not humans but the so-called "peacemakers", machines designed to keep humanity in the Middle Ages forever — and they started out trying to preserve humanity by keeping them caged.
  • The humans of SD Gundam Force are all very nice and friendly. Both humans form Neotopia and Lacroa, (there are none in Ark) It seems only those humans who created the General and his followers where bad people. Of course we have only their word.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is about the war between Humans and Always Chaotic Evil Beastmen until the four generals and the first big bad are dealt with. After that, they merge into the new human-ruled utopia as decent citizens. Even the Biggest Bads turn out to be doing what they think tragic, but necessary.
    • Rossiu, the Well-Intentioned Extremist who gets redeemed through Get A Hold Of Yourself Man, though wasn't in fact named for Rousseau, because he really does mean well—and once he and Simon are on the same page, no force in the universe can stop them. Demonstrably. "Rossiu Was Right" is an internet meme.
    • Despite the fact that they have sealed off their own Evolution (Or life force. Or whatever) and have spent eons trying to make every sentient being in the universe feel absolute and utter despair, the Anti-Spirals are actually Well Intentioned Extremists and want to save the universe from uncontrolled spiral energy creating a black hole.
  • Trinity Blood - the anime eventually draws the conclusion that all humans, vampire or not, can coexist peacefully. And if it weren't for a certain nihilistic organization with a Sufficiently Advanced Alien villain on the top, they would. A proto-Rousseau Was Right statement, in a way.
    • The manga is going in an entirely different direction. The Shaharazard ar-Rahman story arc centered on an evil bishop D'Annunzio! Guderien (an agent of the Order) helped save Eshter too. Kinda turning this possibly into Hobbes Was Right territory!
  • A major theme of Fullmetal Alchemist is that as long as we're not being manipulated by Eldritch Abominations, humans are pretty cool. Protagonist Ed considers absolutely anything even vaguely human to be completely human: Chimeras, living armors, failed transmutations, and even Homunculi, and he never kills anyone who meets any of those descriptions. Fittingly, only three characters who are not utterly incompetent remain completely despicable: the aforementioned Eldritch Abomination Big Bad, Shou Tucker, and the Man in White. Even Barry the Chopper and Kimblee turn out to be advantageous to the good guys in the end.
  • This seems to be apparent in Naruto especially in part II. Despite the treatment of the Jinchuriki, and now four Great Shinobi World Wars, humans are never portrayed as evil, irredeemable bastards. It's often the system that is to blame, and no one has been able to reform it. Until Naruto Uzumaki that is. Though the 'system is to blame' can only be blamed so far. Humans Are Flawed should be the lesson, and Naruto shows that despite the flaws people can be good and be brought out of evil thinking like Nagato.
  • A common theme in Mamoru Hosoda's works is that when times are tight, people with no relation to each other band together to help the heroes actively fighting (even if they previously insulted them over the internet or shunned in real life).

    Comic Books 
  • Jeff Hawke: In the story "The Dream Pedlars", a group of aliens use a Lotus-Eater Machine to brainwash humans into mindless slaves... because they need help restoring an out-of-control weather machine devastating their homeworld, and they're too weak to do it themselves. When their scheme is revealed, Hawke demonstrates that mindless slaves lack the self-preservation needed to do the job. When the aliens admit defeat and apologize for trying to drag humans into their foolish affairs, Hawke simply asks, "Why didn't you just ask us to help?" When the truth fully gets out, countless people from all over the world line up to join the effort to save the alien world, despite the dangers. The aliens are thoroughly humbled by it all.
  • Marvel Apes: In the ape universe, justice is based on claw; Spider-Monkey find the human universe's idea of justice by law to be very appealing.
  • Superman: This is a belief firmly upheld by Superman and his family, who maintain that humans are able to overcome their worst instincts and do good, no matter how dark the world may look.
    • Superman's belief in the innate goodness of mankind is sometimes tested, though, causing even him to doubt such a concept, as he admitted to a Catholic priest in Superman #204 of the "For Tomorrow" storyline. He talks to the priest about how he put a temporary halt to armed conflict in a Middle Eastern region (which is clearly based on Palestine) by using his super-speed and snatching all possible weapons from them. However, one young boy decided to throw a rock at Superman, which was all it took to ignite the violence again, as everyone started fighting again with rocks and fists.
      Superman: One stone. That's all it took. Invaders from Mars, creatures on the loose, mad scientists and giant robots. Bogeymen, hiding under beds and in closets. I've always tried to show you that there's nothing to be afraid of. That fear was in your mind. But then you showed me that the greatest threat to humanity is in your hearts.

    Card Games 

  • Espoused frequently by the Doctor, as per normal, in Children of Time, which makes his meeting Moriarty all the more shocking for him.
  • In crossover story Infinity Crisis, Thor, Sif and Kara all reflect that they came to realise that humanity is worth protecting by living among them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This is ultimately the moral of The Dark Knight. While The Joker is hell-bent on proving Humans Are Bastards, and he does succeed in corrupting a few people like Harvey Dent, Gotham eventually proves it's full of panicked, scared, desperate, but ultimately good people. Most notably on the two ships full of passengers, each given the option to sink the other to save themselves: the Scary Black Man of the criminals throws the detonator out the window while snarking the guards "should have done that ten minutes ago" — the civilians meanwhile vote in favor of sinking the criminals but ultimately are unable to do it and instead resign themselves to their fate. It's best summed up by Batman's two iconic dressing downs of the defeated Joker:
    What were you trying to prove? That deep down, everyone's as ugly as you? You're alone!
    This city just showed you that it's full of people ready to believe in good!

    Live Action TV 
  • The entire premise of Star Trek: The Original Series was that humans would eventually grow into this state. The sequel series moved away from this; while The Next Generation mostly stuck with it, Deep Space 9 really started slipping away during the Dominion War, and Voyager.
  • In Kamen Rider Den-O, the Imagin form contracts with humans to grant their wishes and invariably do evil things. However, as it turns out, practically all of the humans contracted to the Imagin had good intentions, which were twisted in Literal Genie fashion. For example, one episode suggests that a young model is being attacked at the behest of her father, who threw her out a year ago. When the hero confronts the father, he learns that he merely wanted his daughter's career to succeed, and pushed her away so she wouldn't hold herself back by staying with him and helping at his shop; he even supported her from the shadows by sending anonymous bouquet to cheer her up, with the aid of her manager. Thanks to the heroes' actions, father and daughter reconcile.
  • There is a very dark example of this in the episode "A Small Talent for War" of The Twilight Zone (1985). Despite our bickering ways, occasional wars, and nuclear arms race, humans are merciful, afraid of conflict, and genuinely want peace. This makes us completely useless for the reason Earth was seeded: to breed a civilization of warriors. So the aliens who planted those seeds wipe us out and start another crop elsewhere.

  • "Utopian Futures" by Kimya Dawson is set After the End, but instead of people fighting and killing each other for what's left, everyone instead "begins to sit and talk;" now that capitalism has crumbled and "there's nothing left to buy or sell, or kill or die for anymore," everyone can live together peacefully in this new, more simple world, unmotivated and unpressured by the rat race, instead creating art and dancing in the streets and sharing stories joyfully. After many years, global warming reverses itself, the concept of working for someone else is forgotten, strict gender binaries become obsolete, and although people still "grieve for what is lost," they also "share all that we've won" and "celebrate each other."

    Video Games 
  • The Warcraft series (including World of Warcraft) has the inherent decency of the mortal races as a theme since parts of the Horde pulled a Heel–Face Turn between the events of Warcraft II and Warcraft III. Demonic magic tends to be a fairly good way to corrupt people, however, if they don't give into their selfish desires on their own. Even all that being said, the plot is most definitely not a case of White-and-Grey Morality; things are complicated:
    • In World of Warcraft, the Player vs. Environment is generally Black-and-White Morality. The major villains all have a chain of evil (or possibly forced insanity) that can be traced back to either the Old Gods or the always-evil variety of demons, even if the aforementioned villains now do evil for their own reasons.
    • The Horde vs. The Alliance is a case of Grey-and-Grey Morality, with both sides having sympathetic goals...though sometimes not so much. Both sides want to take down the villains, they just distrust each other too much to form an alliance.
    • The history of the Dragons, Orcs, Trolls, and Eredar (one type of demon) all got Retconned at some point or another to blame much of their past evil on corruption by either the demonic Burning Legion or the mysterious Old Gods.
    • Arguably in World of Warcraft this trope is averted to hell and back. The best candidate for the noblest race in the whole setting is also the least human: the Tauren. Despite their imposing size, they're actually very gentle and spiritual. The Tauren are one of the few races to have never committed a serious warcrime against another faction, and Tauren villains are incredibly rare.
  • Chrono Trigger sets this up: The Evil Chancellors were monsters in disguise; Magus, who appears to be summoning a monster to destroy the world, is actually just summoning the monster in order to kill it; the Reptites, who aren't even human, aren't so much "evil" as they are competing to be nature's selection, same could be said for the Fiends; and a giant space tick (not a flea) is set up to be the Big Bad less than an hour into the game. The only villains that seem completely bad is Dalton and Queen Zeal.
  • Chrono Cross goes so far in the opposite direction that it implies that any non-humans are automatically better than humanity by default, just because Lavos was heavily involved with and modified humanity into their modern forms. In practice, it's more like Humans Are Flawed and so is everyone else. Well, except for the dwarves with their actions against the fairies.
  • Of all the games to have this as one of the main themes, the Berserk-inspired, Crapsack World located Dark Souls is probably the most unexpected. Almost every human character has their reasons for doing what they do. Most of the people you meet in Dark Souls are legitimately good people who worry about you. There are a few bastards in the game, but the overwhelming majority of the NPCs are pretty nice.
  • Played with in Endless Space, where Humans Are Divided. The Pilgrims are one of the nicest factions and prefer trading, science, and diplomacy to war (because they're awful at it). The Vaulters and Horatio are neutral but relatively predictable, while the United Empire and Sheredyn are evil but pragmatic; if it's more profitable, they'll trade with you instead of fighting. In comparison, the evil alien factions are highly aggressive; in fact, one of them isn't even capable of diplomacy.
  • Starbound: When humanity discovered FTL travel and entered the galactic scene, their first question was "How can we make the universe a better place?" and founded the Terrene Protectorate to accomplish this. Because of this (and because they lack any real bad history with any of the other races), they are almost uniformly liked (albeit considered a bit naive and crazy).

    Web Original 
  • The video is Batman a Fascist by Thought Slime points out that almost all stories where people with superpowers use them just for their own selfish gain portray such people as the villains, whereas, almost all stories where you are meant to identify with the superpowered person have them using said powers to help people and the like, and points out this says something good about humanity in general
  • Linkara of Atop the Fourth Wall seems to have this as his central philosophy. Time and time again he says that people are decent and kind and nice, even when his opponents try to convince him otherwise. This is also why he dislikes the idea that superheroes have to be mean to be realistic.
    People can be, and are, kind. So why wouldn't someone with incredible abilities be kind too?

    Western Animation 
  • This is played straight in Samurai Jack between Seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4. Human goodness specifically is so pure and righteous that a katana forged from it is the only thing in the universe that can truly harm Aku, a being made of pure evil.
    • From part 2 of "The Birth of Evil":
      Emperor: This sword was forged from the strength and power of the human spirit. It represents all that is good! Its purpose is to destroy you!
    • However, this is shockingly subverted in the final season, when we discovered that there are humans just as cruel and twisted as Aku himself (The High Priestess and The Dominator). Then it's double subverted when Aku has captured Jack in the finale and broadcasts his seeming victory, only for all of Jack's old friends and allies to rush to his aid, defying the Big Bad even at the cost of their own lives. To drive the point home, Ashi, Aku's own daughter whom he has forcibly turned evil, breaks free of his control due to her love for Jack and proves instrumental in destroying Aku once and for all.

Alternative Title(s): Humanity Is Good