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Humans Are Morons

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Idiot, n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling.

Sometimes, it feels like the only difference between humanity and the chimps is that we're only slightly less hairy.

A subtrope of Humans Are Flawed, Humans Are Morons shows that, when compared with other civilizations in works of Speculative Fiction (or even lesser animals, on occasion), humans are nowhere near as technologically advanced, incapable of understanding such civilizations as being any different from the most generic Sci-Fi stories, are very gullible, insanely superstitious, constantly have more astounding lapses in judgment than a more sensible being could possibly tolerate, far more primitive than realized (possibly even more savage or violent than realized), and completely oblivious to all of this.

Humans are not special. They're just an oddly evolved apenote  out in the boondocks of the galaxy where, thankfully, intelligent life is so far away from us that we can live in our own squalor on this filthy planet without a care (or clue) in the world and not pose a threat to anyone out there who may actually be decent and civilized (but God help them if they ever do actually come here).

This is often the source of Fantastic Racism exemplified in alien civilizations towards humans; whenever you see words like "monkeys," "primates," "chimps," and "apes" used as Fantastic Slurs, you're generally dealing with an alien species that believes humans are pretty far down on the totem pole. This may also lead a sufficiently advanced species to note that there is No Intelligent Life Here. Highly evolved humans refer to "homo sap" in the same manner.

Outside of the Speculative Fiction genre, Humans Are Morons may be invoked in works with more political contexts, especially with those that argue Hobbes Was Right or that Democracy Is Bad, again emphasizing that there is still a very savage, primal side of human nature that clouds our better judgment and hampers our social progression towards a more idealistic Utopia.

This can overlap with Humans Are the Real Monsters in the event that any brutish or violent human actions are more closely perceived as being thoughtless, rather than malicious, but usually, these two tropes are separate. When trying to figure out whether an act of violence counts as humans being bastards or total morons, there's always one easy distinction to tell the two apart:

If this trope is ever subverted, it will involve a human talent or trait that makes us special for some reason totally not related to the author's species.

Compare with The Ditz and The Fool when dealing with stupidity on an individual level, and Medieval Morons when a time traveler has to deal with human stupidity, rather than aliens. Contrast: Humanity Is Superior, Humans Are Leaders.

See Also: Puny Earthlings if humanity's stupidity inspires/causes a stronger alien or species to take advantage of this weakness, Surrounded by Idiots if the imbecile humans are an Evil Overlord's Mooks, Hanlon's Razor if someone or something other than humanity pays a price for our own idiocy, Humans Need Aliens if humans need the intervention of non-humans to survive, and This Loser Is You because you're not so smart, either. If the aliens doing the insulting aren't all that smart either, Insufficiently Advanced Alien may be in play.

Super-Trope to Stupid Future People.

Not to be confused with Viewers Are Morons.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Explored in Attack on Titan, with people questioning whether humans need to be ruled to survive and Eren outright comparing society's complacency to livestock. This may even be intentional on the part of the government, as interest in lost knowledge from the outside world is considered heretical and banned. In fact, the 1st Brigade is charged with murdering intellectuals and scientists, to prevent too much free-thinking.
  • By Dragon Ball Z's Genre Shift, humans went from being aware of advanced martial arts and Ki in a World of Weirdness to Straw Loser Muggles who thought even the most blatant shows of Ki were just fancy special effects, and that Mr. Satan was all powerful. What's weird is that this happens in less than a generation, and the in-universe explanation is never given.

    Comic Books 
  • A favorite for Alan Moore when he writes anything about aliens interacting with humans, occasionally referring to humans derogatorily as "chimps" and "apes".
    • In Skizz a peaceful alien is stranded on Earth a la E.T., which, to his own species, is classified as a "hellworld" planet for many reasons, among them being that human civilization is far too primitive and undeveloped for people to handle alien contact. The first encounter the alien has with humans is discovering drunk skinheads pummeling each other with their fists; the revelation that he's stranded on a planet where the locals are that primitive is more than enough to make him cry.
      • The Big Bad in the story, a government agent known only as "Van Owen," could be interpreted to an extent as an example of the overlap between this and Humans Are the Real Monsters. No matter what anyone says or asks him, he's convinced in his own mind that the peaceful alien is a secret spy looking to destroy the planet.
    • "D.R. & Quinch Have Fun on Earth" features the title characters manipulating humanity throughout history in an elaborate scheme that relies on humans developing a space travel program. When humans finally reach the characters' corner of the galaxy and encounter "their first real, actual people," they're given a civic reception at "The League of Disadvantaged Planets' Charity Hall" as everyone sees humans as stupid, mindless life-forms.
    • Several of Moore's Future Shocks from 2000 AD are about humanity's stupidity allowing aliens who are actually malicious to take advantage of them. Notable examples include, the Grawks who conquer Earth not through war but by giving gold to any human on the planet in exchange for world landmarks or even entire countries while the humans who take the gold are unaware that they are making a legitimate sale in accordance with Intergalactic Law (this also deflates the price of gold on Earth so much that humans can't buy Earth back) and the humanitarians who don't seem to bother the military too much about taking security precautions when making first contact.
  • In Judge Dredd this is one of a few arguments made to show that Democracy Is Bad (especially as an In-Universe argument). With the Judges in control of everything, the rest of the population has seemingly accepted the parentalist state of things and now cannot be trusted to competently vote on individuals to run the government on their behalf. There was also the time when an orangutan named Dave was able to do a better job at predicting the winners of sporting matches than human sports analysts. His fans later rally to get him elected as Mayor of Mega-City One, believing that he can do a better job than an actual person. Dave the Orangutan won the election and was later assassinated.
  • In another 2000 AD strip, Bec & Kawl, The Greys who abduct Pierre seem to view humans as play-things to be abused and toyed with for their amusement, when not partaking in the traditional Anal Probing and alien-human hybrid experiments, of course. One grey even refers to Pierre as a "monkey-man". The Greys do, however, decide to recruit Pierre (who is a pest control expert) for the job of "taking on the filthiest vermin of all" (a separate malevolent alien race hiding amongst us on Earth, waiting for the opportune moment to strike), which turns out to be A Batman Gambit for The Greys' own gain.
  • In the Strontium Dog story arc "Bitch," aliens who have taken Ronald Reagan hostage find The Gipper to be so astonishingly stupid that they can't fathom how this man could possibly be "the leader of the human race" without assuming that the rest of us aren't that bright, either.
  • Throughout Silver Surfer's solo series, Surfer, confined to Earth by Galactus in punishment for rebelling against his master, constantly bemoans the madness of men. No matter what he does to try and fit in, he encounters human prejudice and fear. His evaluations vary from Humans Are the Real Monsters to Humans Are Morons though.

    Fan Fic 
  • In Aeon Entelechy Evangelion, this is how almost everybody non-human views humanity in general and the NEG in particular. This view is especially held by the Migou.
  • If Wishes Were Ponies: With some exceptions (namely his human-born friends, especially Hermione) Harry is a clear believer of this, at least when it comes to the Wizarding World. His Internal Monologue routinely questions the intelligence and common sense of Dumbledore and the Wizarding World as a whole. Among normal humans (such as Lin Yueshi and the few members of the UK government he meets), he's visibly more at ease and polite.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Idiocracy takes place in a future where Survival of the Fittest has been hijacked by the astoundingly stupid.
  • Mars Attacks!! features many situations where people want to believe that the Martians are peace-loving and our friends, despite them repeatedly vaporizing everyone. The French are naive enough to fall for the Martians' fake peace treaty meeting even after the Martians have killed and invaded millions across the planet by now.
  • In Men in Black humans are the least technically advanced space faring race in the galaxy. Most of the better technology the MIBs have is acquired from elsewhere, and the greater human population cannot be allowed to know the truth. Also, aliens that come here seem to have a rather high mortality rate. An early scene in the film has Agent K noting that humans aren't supposed to have an alien brain scanner because "Human thought is so primitive it's looked upon as an infectious disease in some of the better galaxies. That kind of makes you proud, doesn't it?"
    James Edwards: Why not just tell the truth? People are smart; they can handle it.
    Agent K: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it!
  • Star Trek:
    • In Star Trek: First Contact, humans of the 21st Century live in a post-apocalyptic society with just barely enough infrastructure to continue research on warp drive, while the other races have already begun exploring the galaxy and view humanity as being "too primitive." However, this is ultimately subverted by the rest of Star Trek canon as we somehow nonetheless become one of the dominant space faring races.
    • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home includes a lot of this, too; Kirk notes to his crew before exploring 20th Century San Fransisco that "this is an extremely primitive and paranoid culture" and believes that no one pays attention to you in the contemporary age "unless you swear every other word." Bones is shocked to find a woman in a hospital on dialysis, asking if this is the Dark Ages.
  • The alien Eros from Plan 9 from Outer Space can't seem to reason with the humans without chastising them for their stupid minds! "Stupid! Stupid!"
    • "Because all you of Earth are idiots!" Although considering that their way to warn us about potentially dangerous scientific experiments we shouldn't attempt is a (very localized) Zombie Apocalypse, there's a strong case for this being the pot calling the kettle black.
  • Both the 1951 and 2008 versions of The Day The Earth Stood Still feature Klaatu chastising humanity for being irresponsible with all that they have; The Remake provides a Humans Are Special moral to ultimately subvert this, however.
  • The conclusion of "The Galaxy Song" in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life:
    And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere out in Space
    Because there's bugger'all down here on Earth.
  • In Battlefield Earth, it's the belief of Terl and the Psychlos is that the so-called "man-animals" are too stupid to tie their own bootlaces. Terl even refused to put the cause of death as "shot by Man-Animal" unless he saw it because they find it impossible for a Man-Animal to even know how to use a gun. This arguably becomes unintentional Hypocritical Humor given that Terl and his fellow Psychlos spend a great deal of time holding the Idiot Ball themselves and despite having taken over Earth 1000 years ago they know absolutely nothing about humans.
  • The Mothman Prophecies:
    John: I think we can assume that these entities are more advanced than us. Why don't they just come right out and tell us what's on their minds?
    Leek: You're more advanced than a cockroach, have you ever tried explaining yourself to one of them?
  • Planet of the Apes, naturally, is the rare example of this in Speculative Fiction where humanity is less civilized than the apes, as opposed to usually being the slightly more civilized ones.
  • Demolition Man provides the unique depiction of a Future where humanity has eradicated all the things that make humans bastards in the Present Day but has become more paranoid, inexperienced, and clueless as a trade-off.
  • prot from K-PAX certainly has a few choice words for humans.
    prot: You humans, most of you, subscribe to this policy of an eye for an eye, a life for a life, which is known throughout the universe for its... stupidity.
    • And another...
    prot: Sometimes it's hard to imagine how you've made it this far.
  • In Army of Darkness, Ash shows himself on many occasions to be no different than the Medieval Morons... except he's the one with the gun.
  • Subtly subverted in Steven Spielberg's remake of The War of the Worlds. The aliens who explore the basement our human characters are hiding in show a lot of fascination in a bicycle tire, hinting that for all the greater technological advancements they have over humans, they never invented a tool as simple and practical as the wheel.
    • Similar scenes also happen in another Spielberg film, ET. ET is often fascinated with mundane objects and panics when they fall over or move unexpectedly. In some scenes, he acts not unlike a wild animal.
    • They also act like little children who constantly have to be told not to lick everything in sight because they may get sick. Especially on an alien planet.
  • Jackass, a series of movies (and a TV series at first) that uses this trope and Rule of Funny, did well enough at the box office to have sequels. America's Dumbest/Funniest Home Videos is similar.
  • Starship Troopers is less "Humans are Morons" and more "Humans Are Absolutely Too Dumb to Live". The overwhelming majority of human characters underestimate the Bugs as mindless animals despite obvious evidence to the contrary. For example, early on in the film, the city of Buenos Aires is annihilated by an asteroid knocked from the Asteroid Belt into Earth, by bug plasma from Klendathu, thousands of light years away. Something like this far beyond anything humanity can do without trillions of dollars worth of supercomputer, and the Bugs are doing these calculations in their heads. The humans insist that the Bugs just managed a lucky hit ("Bug plasma is random and light"), and retaliate with an invasion of Klendathu that ends in abysmal failure with thousands of humans dead and wounded, all due to massive tactical blunders on the human's part. Even after all this, the majority of humans are adamant that the Bugs are just unthinking beasts that can be easily crushed by human superiority. To quote one expert, "I find the idea of an intelligent bug offensive!" With the humans constantly underestimating the Bugs, paying dearly for it, and never once learning their lesson, one has to wonder if the Bugs find the idea of intelligent monkeys offensive as well...
  • According to the news ticker during The Novak Element in RoboCop (2014), aliens have asked SETI to stop trying to contact them. Given some of the actions taken by people and the state of the world—not just in that film, but the franchise as a whole—no one could hardly blame them.
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction, Lockdown complains that human intelligence doesn't seem to exist.
  • Bumblebee has the U.S. Army and government inadvertently siding with the Decepticons who easily gain their trust by simply lying to them as while the titular protagonist Bumblebee, who can't talk, is unable to tell the humans his own side of the story of why Transformers are coming to earth (which of course is the more honest version) and is forced to hide from human surveillance. Agent Burns even Lampshades how stupid it is to trust someone who calls themselves Decepticons but fears of them going to the Soviet Union ultimately drives military thinking. The Decepticons, using the technology granted to them by the humans, decide to exterminate the humans once they've tracked down Bumblebee.
  • In Godzilla vs. Kong, besides Apex's Too Dumb to Live use of Ghidorah's head, none of the other human cast aside from the three-man Team Godzilla bother to ask why Godzilla is suddenly acting hostile now or why he seems to be only attacking cities where there are Apex facilities, when asking those questions are common sense. Instead Team Kong jump straight into the matter of how to neutralize or stop Godzilla.

  • C. S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, the devils of Hell do not think highly of humanity; Screwtape refers to them as "vermin" on at least one occasion, and claims that God's decision to create the human race is the reason Lucifer turned away from God.
  • In Interstellar Pig, when Barney finds out that he has been made a character in the game, he finds that his species has a ludicrously high IRSC rating; the Interstellar Relative Sapience Code gives lower numbers to species with higher intelligence. Subverted in the end, when Barney pieces together the clues and realizes that the interstellar Pig is actually a recording device, and the game is a gambit to trick the participants into passing it (violently) from alien race to alien race so it can record more information on them. He then reassesses the rules in the game and comes to the conclusion that the higher numbers DO mean higher intelligence, because all of the other alien races playing have been too violent, narrow minded and stupid to figure out the Pig's scam.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy is centered around this trope, with the beginning chapter of the first book saying the following: 'In the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy sits a insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life-forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.' Arthur Dent, the only human left alive (except for Trillian) is constantly being referred to as an ape or otherwise put down as a moron (mainly by Zaphod, though he isn't exactly bright himself). In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, it's revealed that humans are actually descended from the survivors of a shipload of clueless Human Aliens who were written off as "useless" by their home planet and tricked into leaving.
  • A chapter of Carl Sagan's book Pale Blue Dot titled "Is There Intelligent Life On Earth?" covers a fictional alien visitor observing human activity from space that cause it to speculate if there really is such a thing as human intelligence.
  • Terry Bisson's short story "They're Made Out of Meat" is about Starfish Aliens who discover humans and find it impossible to comprehend how a species made entirely out of organic matter could possibly be sentient, among other characteristic traits. They rationalize striking us from any of their records and avoiding contact by noting how humans only inhabit one planet and lack the physical and, more importantly, technological capabilities to travel long distances through space, making the chances of future contact very slim. This shows that aliens are as narrow minded and judgmental as humans are as was the author's intention.
  • Both Mein Herr and the fairies tend to share this opinion in Lewis Carroll's Sylvie and Bruno.
  • The original adaptation of The War of the Worlds makes the subversion noted in Spielberg's film (mentioned above) a lot more apparent, with the main character explicitly pointing out the aliens' lack of wheels, speculating that they may have never invented them on their own.
  • Several examples from the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
    Labria: What do you call someone who speaks three languages?
    Wuher: Trilingual.
    Labria: Someone who speaks two languages?
    Wuher: Bilingual.
    Labria: Someone who speaks one language?
    Wuher: Monolingual?
    Labria: Human.
    • This is demonstrably incorrect in the Star Wars universe, however. Han Solo is shown to understand at least three alien languages (Wookiee, Rodian and Huttese) despite being (apparently) physically incapable of speaking it himself. Luke understands the electronic language spoken by R2D2 and just like his Uncle Owen, he could understand the Jawas. Given that the former is a career criminal and the latter was raised on a backwater farm far from what passes for civilization on a backwater planet— neither being lifestyles conducive to much education— it can be inferred that polyglotism is fairly common among humans in the Star Wars universe. The EU novels largely bear this out. The characters above are simply anti-human bigots.
    • The Columi (a species with giant heads containing huge brains, but tiny bodies), upon discovering worlds populated by humans, quickly returned home in disappointment at having found "subsentient barbarians" instead of the intelligent life they were looking for. Subverted in that pretty much all of the other aliens (including fellow hyperdrive 'inventors' the Duros) they came across elicited the same opinion.
  • In the book The VMR Threory, this is the view held by many races that first contact humans, given that the human individuals who are in charge of first contact situations are complete idiots to the point that other species think that humanity is Too Dumb to Live. This has sparked two theories of how it's possible for humanity to have been able to reach space and survive as a species. The first is that there's smart humans and dumb humans, and if they mess with the dumb humans, the smart humans will come and kick their asses. The second is that there is a specific race out there guiding humans that is infinitely more dangerous than all of humanity. The most popular theory of who this master race is happens to be The Vampire Master Race.
  • In Earth (The Book), anything that doesn't make us look crazy or evil makes us look like complete idiots. For instance, "not masturbating on a mass-transit system" is the example used to explain the "harsh, at times maddeningly frustrating trade-offs" that served as the basis for a social contract.
    • Another example comes at the end of the FAQ Section on Chapter 2: Life, revolving around the author refusing to explain to aliens what creationism is, despite "billions of people" believing in it as the origin of life up until the end.
    Q. Come on.
    A. Look, if you're so damn curious, check into a hotel room, open the bedside table and start reading.
    Q. Hold on a moment. [Pause]
    A. We know.
    Q. Six days? Six days?!?
    A. [Covers eyes, shakes head]
  • The My Teacher Is an Alien series plays with this a bit. The aliens are studying humans partially to figure out why it is we have the most powerful brains in the galaxy, but only use ten percent of it.
  • Wizard's First Rule as explained in the eponymous first book in the Sword of Truth series: "People are stupid. They will believe something because they want it to be true; or because they're afraid it might be true."
  • In The Lost World (1995), Ian Malcolm expresses this view in response to one post-lecture questioner who held an Evolutionary Levels view of humans as having attained sentience as a result of the extinction of the dinosaurs.
    Ian Malcolm: "What makes you think human beings are sentient and aware? There's no evidence for it. Human beings never think for themselves, they find it too uncomfortable. For the most part, members of our species simply repeat what they are told — and become upset if they are exposed to any different view. The characteristic human trait is not awareness but conformity, and the characteristic result is religious warfare. Other animals fight for territory or food; but, uniquely in the animal kingdom, human beings fight for their 'beliefs.' The reason is that beliefs guide behavior, which has evolutionary importance among human beings. But at a time when our behavior may well lead us to extinction, I see no reason to assume we have any awareness at all. We are stubborn, self-destructive conformists. Any other view of our species is just a self-congratulatory delusion."
  • In Out of the Dark, the Shongairi are initially convinced of this, based on "idiotic tactics" from Agincourt, and a further convinced of it once they understand the current situation. For example, they believe that the refusal of First World powers to use nuclear or biological weapons against their enemies in the Middle East is idiotic (specifically citing the US' tolerance of Iran's actions) and the presence of a public information network like the Internet, allowing free, ready access to vast stores of information, is considered completely insane.
  • Vampirocracy: Vampires take over the world because they're convinced humans need adult supervision to avoid blowing themselves into a radioactive asteroid belt.
  • This is a major theme of The Overstory. Characters often reflect on just how blind humanity is to the rest of life on earth, and how suicidal it is to destroy nature.
  • This is the broad position held by most people in Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse. The main characters are all "cured humans", or Uplifted Technically Living Zombies and not as intelligent as the extinct pre-plague humans, but discussing it amongst themselves one of them concludes that the old humans might have been able to govern themselves and create technology but they also managed to destroy themselves, so they can't have been that smart. The expectation of humans as stupid is somewhat exaggerated, but not completely made up.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ancient Aliens postulates that pretty much every human invention is actually stolen from Ancient Astronauts, was given to us by said ancient astronauts, or was inspired by said ancient astronauts technology. Almost every major human event - for good or worse - wasn't done by humans; it was actually aliens behind it!
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has humanity constantly proving that we're idiots. First, there's Sunnydale. There's a reason the trope Weirdness Censor used to be called Sunnydale Syndrome. Secondly, Season 8 shows the rest of humanity isn't much better. Basically all of humanity (although Stephen Colbert has been shown to be one of the few smart ones) has become vampire fanboys/fangirls after Harmony gets a TV show, with people willingly getting sucked on Riley-style. They also think the Slayer Organization is evil, though there are a few in the bunch that give them reason enough to think that.
  • Doctor Who:
    • When he's not going on about the marvelousness of humanity (a particular feature of the Tenth Doctor), the Doctor is ranting about how stupid/blind/ignorant they are. Sometimes in the same episode. From "The Age of Steel":
      The Doctor: The human race; for such an intelligent lot you aren't half susceptible. Give anyone a chance to take control and you submit. Sometimes I think you like it!
      • There comes a moment when the Fourth Doctor wonders why he likes humans so much, seeing as we have "such limited brains".
      • The Ninth Doctor was particularly fond of calling humans "stupid apes" whenever he was angry at them.
      • This trait in humans is why the Tenth Doctor in particular finds the human race to be amazing. In "Utopia", the Doctor visits a human refugee base in the year 100,000,000,000,000 AD, a time in which the Universe was ending and most races had gone extinct, and states his wonderment at how the human race is one of the few races to survive to the very end of existence.
        The Doctor: [While walking through the hordes of human families living in the base] This is fantastic! You humans with your simple, STUPID ways... with all your soap dramas and gossip mags, microwave dinners and iPods... Your pathetic small brains and your simple homes, your greed and your sins, your bad ways and your poor souls, with your ignorant nature and your frankly appalling manners at times... with all that you STILL manage to amaze me. Look at you lot, here at the end of TIME ITSELF and you're living! The human race, the race of passion! Indomitable! That's the word... indomitable!
      • The Twelfth Doctor would declare Earth to be the "Planet of the Pudding Brains".
    • "Aliens of London"/"World War Three": This trope is the cornerstone of the Slitheen's plan to destroy Earth. They'll get control of the UK's nuclear arsenal by making the world aware of aliens and then, posing as members of the British government, claim the aliens plan to attack and the nukes are the only way to destroy them. Then they would "accidentally" fire a missile at another nation, starting a nuclear war that would annihilate life on the planet. The Slitheen reason that humans are so stupid and reactionary that they'll act without thinking, which the Doctor confirms is true.
    • "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood": This is the Family's opinion of humans, judging by dialogue when they confront the temporarily-human and amnesiac Doctor:
      Mother of Mine: He didn't just make himself human. He made himself an idiot.
      Son of Mine: Same thing, isn't it?
  • Played for laughs in the early episodes of Farscape. D'Argo and Aeryn continually get frustrated at John's lack of familiarity with technology they'd taken for granted their whole lives and generally view him as completely useless. However, his own ingenuity and pluckiness end up saving the day very frequently.
  • The darkest episodes of The Outer Limits (1995) are more often the ones where the human protagonist(s) is an astounding Unwitting Pawn who is duped into destroying the Earth or selling out his own species for the benefit of a more cunning alien villain or someone who winds up paying dearly for a severe lapse in judgment. See also Cruel Twist Ending as they are occasionally the result of a character's mistake, stemming from the human weaknesses mentioned on this page.
  • In Spaced, Tim defends the Sci-Fi genre arguing that "the thoughts and speculations of our contemporary authors and thinkers have probably never been closer to the truth." Cut to a group of aliens outside the comic book shop laughing at how ridiculous everything on display is.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    Thor: The Asgard have tried to stop [the Replicators]. You have demonstrated their weakness may be found through a less... sophisticated approach. We are no longer capable of such thinking.
    Dr. Jackson: Wait a minute, you're actually saying that you need someone... dumber than you are?
    O'Neill: You may have come to the right place.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • The episode "Virtuoso" introduced us to the Qomar, a Rubber Forehead Alien species highly dedicated to mathematics and sciences and far more advanced than the Federation, which the Qomar looks down upon in contempt. When the Doctor provides medical treatment for one of them, the Qomarian sarcastically asks if the process involves bloodletting. Even in an idealized future where humanity has overcome a good number of its flaws to become one of the most dominant space-fairing races, we're still finding aliens who think we're dumb and primitive.
    • Despite Star Trek generally pushing the Humans Are Special line, there's a scene in "Distant Origin" where two alien scientists are examining the skull of a long-dead Red Shirt and note its smaller cranium. Likewise in "Dark Frontier", we learn that the Borg catalog humans as having "below-average cranial capacity", but as they go on to note that humanity has successfully resisted all attempts to assimilate them, they're really insulting themselves.
  • A fantasy variation appears in True Blood.
    Nan: I have proof. Scientific. People are far dumber than they realize.

  • Ever since GWAR was banished from their home planet for stinking up the place, they've been stuck here with what they often call "human filth." In their eyes, humanity is far beneath them, and human life is practically worthless, existing only to give them something to enslave and viciously exploit. The song "Slaughterama," for instance, is about a game show that's intentionally designed to "kill everyone that's worth killing."
  • The XTC song "Across This Antheap."
    The stars are laughing at us, as we crawl on and on across this antheap.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000's Imperium of Man has hardly advanced their technology in the 10,000 years since anyone has last seen The Emperor Of Mankind. Human culture throughout their vast empire is extremely paranoid and superstitious, and the government is such a vast, inept bureaucracy that a simple filing error can lead to entire populations of people being immediately forgotten about and/or destroyed.
    • Technically, humans aren't paranoid. "Paranoid" would imply your fears aren't justified. They certainly are.
  • A similar example exists in FASA's ship combat sim Renegade, at least for the majority human government. The Terran Overlord Government got to be the big dog in the galactic stage by being brutally stupid and corrupt, being based upon the worst excesses of Rome. In their case, the filing error will not only wipe out a planet and/or its location, but also result in about 140 senatorial murders. Whereas the most gross stupidity in Warhammer 40k is a result of religious fanaticism, in Renegade's universe, it's a result of purely shortsighted greed and avarice. And occasionally throwing bureaucracy into bureaucracy. Forget the name of it but the creation of one TOG fighter led them to many victories, as the constant reshuffling and retitling of it while it was in development resulted in a huge amount of nasty ambushes for spies who reported on freighters and dignitaries having only 'light escorts.' To make matters worse, TOG owns roughly 3 times as many planets as the Tyranids have devoured. It is not unheard of for an entire SYSTEM to escape taxes in the political morass for decades, only to later be invaded by their hosts who want it paid back with interest.

    Video Games 

  • In Drive (Dave Kellett), humans are second only to the Tesskans as the dumbest sapient race in the galaxy. All other races are significantly brighter by a noticeable degree. The human institute responsible for quantifying alien intelligence famously left a huge gap between humanity and the top. The only reason humans are one of the most powerful races is because other races are polarized between being friendly, pacifist, and too naive to hand warfare, or warlike, xenophobic, and unwilling to make friends. Humans are pretty much the only warlike race capable of forming alliances and taking advantage of the different strengths of alien races.
  • In Drowtales humans are considered to be a type of goblin. Though considered somewhat cunning individually (like Vaelia, the Badass Normal human bodyguard of Ariel) collectively humans are viewed as less intelligent than orcs. In one chapter, a group of drow children with the help of said Badass Normal and a squad of Mauve Shirts, took down an entire human castle, which was being used to sacrifice elves as part of a harebrained bid for immortality.
  • Port Sherry: In "A human joke", an alien tells a joke about a hypothetical scenario where humans are finally invited to "the higher stage" available to other alien species, and given all the resources they need to chart their species' future. The punchline is that sixty years later, they haven't progressed because they're still fighting over who gets to sit at the planning table. The joke is a hit.

    Web Original 
  • Even that damn squirrel, Foamy, thinks this about us!
  • A theme in Banana-nana-Ninja!, very much akin to that in Invader Zim.
  • The Darwin Awards is also a catalog of human stupidity.
  • The eponymous Dr. Horrible laments that most humans are sheep and can't think for themselves. Obviously, only a complete overhaul of the system can fix this problem.
  • The Vampires of The Blademourner Trilogy share this view of humans, even going so far as to keep them in what is essentially a giant hamster cage.
  • Kuraii of The Gungan Council believes all humans are this.

    Western Animation 
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force: The Mooninites believe that they are superior to Earth in every possible way; however, the logic and reasoning they use to enforce their position is very, VERY flawed. Truth be told, they're probably dumber than all life on Earth — human, food product, or otherwise.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Pretty much everyone (not just in Dimmsdale) is a complete idiot who is utterly useless in any given situation, oftentimes not even realizing something is going wrong in the first place. Their general obliviousness to the very obvious presence of fairies and magical creatures says it all. Not that other civilizations (such as Yugopotamia) are much better, though.
  • Frisky Dingo: This is Mr. Ford's philosophy, as he so eloquently breaks it down during a TV news segment:
    Mr. Ford: Really, all Americans want is cold beer, warm pussy, and someplace to take a shit with a door on it.
    Carter: Up next...
    Mr. Ford: I mean, you don't want the dog looking at you!
  • Futurama:
    • The 20th Century is known as "The Stupid Age" to historians. However, that doesn't make humans of the 31st Century any less stupid than us. And most of the aliens and robots aren't very bright either.
    • And again in the episode "The Late Philip J. Fry" where we see Fry, Bender, and the Professor time-travel forward to the year 5,000,000 AD where they learn that human evolution has deviated along two paths, one evolving from intellect and reason and the other evolving from brute strength and very little else. The mentally superior race explain that they can devise a backwards time-travel device for our characters to use within five years. Cut to five years later where we find that the brainless apes have sacked the settlements of the more intelligent, reasonable species. That last part may have been a reference to how the Morlocks appeared to be nothing more than brutal savages but were actually maintaining the machinery that supported their Eloi cattle.
  • Garfield and Friends: Garfield is shown to be a lot smarter than humans, especially his owner Jon.
    • In "How to Drive Humans Crazy", Garfield and all other cats conspire to annoy humans as much as possible and that humans are too stupid to realize this.
    • Garfield admits in the episode "For Cats Only" that the cat's vocalization Meow actually means "Humans are dumb, we make them wait on us" and that cats are actually aliens from another planet who chose to "enslave" humanity in order to get free room and board by acting cute and purring.
  • Gravity Falls: The people of Gravity Falls are all scatter-brained, eccentric, or your basic run-of-the-mill stupid, although many of the town's creatures aren't much better. The show actually has an explanation for this: The Society of the Blind Eye is a secret cult that works to erase the townspeople's memories of their home's supernatural nature, so they can live normal lives. The ray they use to do this has the unfortunate side effect of hurting their sanity (as this is what drove Old Man Mc Guckit crazy) and possibly their intelligence (as Lazy Susan shows).
  • Invader Zim: Everyone is an idiot, except for Gaz and Dib (and even then, Dib's neuroses can lead to him coming off as this at times). Professor Membrane is one of the most brilliant men on the planet, but he still overlooks incredibly obvious signs of alien life. The Irken Empire wasn't even aware of the Earth's existence; they just wanted to get rid of Zim and sent him on what they thought was an impossible mission. The episode where Tak is introduced sums it up quite nicely: her home base turns out to be much too big because it's actually a giant pump, so she disguises it as a giant hot dog stand. Dib asks why she didn't think anyone would notice, and Tak explains that the good thing about humans is that if there's anything like food or technology covering it up, they don't notice it; they just see that there's food in that building, not that it's 50 feet tall.
  • Phineas and Ferb technically qualifies, as the titular characters are two children who manage to do/build things every day that often defy the laws of physics... and no one thinks that's strange. Perry the Platypus is one of the few characters in the show (minus Ferb) who regularly uses common sense.
  • Discussed in "The Springfield Files" on The Simpsons:
    Lisa: Dad, according to Junior Skeptic Magazine, the chances are 175 million to one of another form of life actually coming in contact with ours.
    Homer: So?
    Lisa: It's just that the people who claim they've seen aliens are always pathetic low-lifes with boring jobs. Oh, and you, Dad. (laughs nervously)
  • South Park is built on this trope whether there are aliens to compare them to or not. They way they react to any given situation presented is over the top and most of the time childish with dire consequences. If every example were to be listed it, could make a page of its own. But for now:
    • The 100th episode, "Cancelled", reveals Earth to be a giant Reality TV show for the rest of the universe's silly amusement. Not to mention the whole "Space Cash" incident.
    • And Earth's response to the aforementioned reality show? "We're on TV!"
  • Many Transformers cartoons has the titular robots complaining about how stupid humans are and primitive human technology is. Humans on the Generation One continuity in particular were quite gullible, easily believing Decepticon lies such as in the two-parter "Megatron Master Plan".


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Humans Are Idiots, Humans Are Stupid, Humanity Is Stupid, Humanity Is Idiotic


Operation Dark Storm

Operation Dark Storm was basically a mass suicide move on the part of humanity. Yet it is shown to be met with unanimous approval, with even the facial animations of the humans responsible showing a complete lack of intelligence. They apparently have forgotten that all the things humans need to survive also require the sun. And by blocking the sun, it means the death of vegetation and phytoplankton, everything living that relies on those as well, and which destroys the foundation for most of Earth's biosphere. Even if they had an alternative, they basically ensured their own near-extinction unless they assumed they would win inside of a week. They also either never developed a killswitch, or it was lost/destroyed in the ensuing war, dooming whoever won to imprisonment on a dead husk of a planet, as the cloud disables anything that flies through it. And also, thanks to the lack of sun, sicknesses are easier to get. And because of all this lack of intelligence, the humans end up losing the war against the machines and end up being their new power source.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / TooDumbToLive

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