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Humans Are the Real Monsters

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"We're going to recapture my creatures before they get hurt. They are currently in alien terrain, surrounded by millions of the most vicious creatures on the planet: humans."

So the Speculative Fiction protagonist is fighting one or more nonhuman entities, and is one of the major forces of his kind. Battling onward, the hero is hit with true horror: the villains aren't fighting their equals or lessers, but their own monsters, who see the hero hat through a history of violent characteristics and nefarious motivations.

Since opposing races tend to be sufficiently advanced or incredibly large and/or powerful, any action of wanting or invading can be seen as worse due to their lack of needs. Due to unfortunate parallels to current human greed and actions, however, it's easy to draw comparisons and show how humans can easily fit villainous tropes. Additionally, expect any form of attack against humans to be either out of fear or revenge. On a large enough scale, expect an Anti-Human Alliance or having Humanity on Trial.

This trope typically comes in three distinct varieties, but the basic point is the same:

  • Monsters extend their reach to humans only for violent retaliation, with a reveal that humans were attacked out of fear.
  • Monsters attack the humans first, only for disproportionate human retaliation and action to draw their morality into doubt.
  • Humanity has extended its reach (different regions in fantasy, outside earth in sci-fi, etc.), with the revelation that humanity's actions makes them the invading monsters/aliens.

In all cases, humanity will show characteristics of the Absolute Xenophobe to one degree or another; no matter how sincerely an alien race may state its intentions to do good or seek peace, human perspective will generally be it's us or "them."

A potential problem with this trope is the relative level of power between the humans and the monsters. If a writer has Puny Humans on one side and uber-powerful monsters on the other side, then they're really going to need to push the Muggles Do It Better angle to sustain the willing suspension of disbelief. Otherwise, nobody is going to take Cthulhu's sob story of living in terror of the local village mob's pitchforks seriously. For example, show how the Enslaved Elves were brought to heel or how the Hunter of Monsters commits Van Helsing Hate Crimes.

Frequently it will be claimed that humans are the only species in the universe to wage war on their own kind or kill just for the heck of it (which has long since been disproven by science).note  Still, the powerful message of this trope results in it being an Undead Horse Trope.

This is a Super-Trope to Beware the Living and Go Mad from the Apocalypse, which is this trope in the context of a Zombie Apocalypse.

When humans are seen as uncivilized savages, see Humans Are Morons. When monsters are met with unexpected opposition, that's Humans Are Warriors. When humans are seen as monsters by lesser beings and animals, it's Humans Are Cthulhu. For a much more minor scale, see Humans Are Flawed. For humans being inhuman toward their fellow humans in general, see Humans Are Bastards. Frequently involves What Measure Is a Non-Human? and Hobbes Was Right. May be paired with Death Means Humanity to invoke a more egalitarian change in perspective amongst the humans. Compare/contrast Humans Are Special, Humans Are Good, and Aliens Are Bastards.

Note: If an example is called such by a villainous equalnote  then it is not this trope. Said examples will typically fall under Straw Nihilist or The Social Darwinist (among others).


Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • This add plays it straight then flips it on its head in its Green Aesop. A young girl is frustrated because there is a monkey in her bedroom, it won't leave, and she doesn't know what to do. When she finally manages convince it to go, she gets curious about why it was there to begin with. The monkey tells her that there are humans in her forest, they won't leave, and it doesn't know what to do. it tells her that they killed its mother and almost did the same to her. She escaped the destruction and tried to hide in the girls bedroom for safety. The Spanish version is worse because the corporation workers also killed its friends. Touched by the monkey's story, the girl decides to help. It's slightly notorious because it shows both the worst in humanity (callousness/Environmental damage, ruthless greed and cruelty/corruption) and the best (unconditional compassion, love and Environmental friendliness) putting it more into Humans Are Flawed territory.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Lamput, despite being a Blob Monster, Lamput doesn't cause trouble and goes out of his way to help others. This makes the human scientists seem like jerks trying to capture him, even when they're only capturing him as part of their job.

    Audio Plays 
  • In "Destination Nerva", the first of the Fourth Doctor Adventures, a Victorian Lord steals a spaceship and tries to take the British Empire into Space, which leads to the aliens he attacked trying to wipe humanity out with The Plague. Nick Briggs lampshades this: "I know that's nothing original in science fiction".
    • Years before that, "Jubilee" showed an alternate timeline in which the Doctor stopped the Daleks from successfully invading England in the early 1900s - only for the locals to quickly seize the tech to establish the English Empire, a state as bloodthirsty and xenophobic as the Daleks. They threw the Doctor and Evelyn into the Tower of London, where Evelyn eventually died of starvation, and when they got tired of the Doctor's escape attempts, they cut off his legs. When the main timeline Doctor saw the horror of the Empire, best demonstrated when a massive crowd gleefully starts chanting "EX-TER-MI-NATE!" he collapsed in despair, understanding that timeline's humans have been corrupted into the new Daleks.

    Comic Books 
  • Aquaman: In Aquaman (2011), this is a sentiment shared by most if not all Atlantean people. In particular, Murk of The Drift bears much more than simple racism towards the surface dwellers. Something happened to him in the deeply rooted past which he'd rather not disclose as of late.
  • Avengers Forever: The whole story runs on the premise of Time Lords trying to prevent the timelines with bad futures where humanity becomes an evil empire and conquers the universe. Then it's turned on its head at the climax, when the Avengers ask the Time Keepers how often this Bad Future comes about, and they admit it's less than 50% of the time.
  • Batman:
    • Batman: Black and White: In "Monster Maker", Batman battles a gangster who recruits children, while reflecting that mad scientists creating scaly mutants are "kid's stuff" in comparison.
    • In another Batman comic, Batman: Last Knight on Earth, an idealistic and somewhat amnesiac clone of Batman discovered that the general population of humanity jumped wholeheartedly into evil when given the chance. They first voted for the death of Superman in a deathtrap, then they massacre a good chunk of the Justice League and torture the original Batman into turning evil — while they turn on the villains for some extra thrills (this was a catalyst for a number of villains like Poison Ivy and Lex Luthor to do a Heel–Face Turn) until their actions lead to a post-apocalyptic world.
  • Cartoon Network Action Pack: A Samurai Jack story featured in the 17th issue had an Animal Wrongs Group trick Jack into freeing a bunch of large and vicious animals in hopes that they would kill everyone in the city that were kept safe by caging the beasts. Jack ends up slaughtering the creatures to prevent them from killing anyone and has the three insane animal rights activists locked up in the cage that once held the beasts. One of them laments the demise of the "poor beautiful monsters", causing Jack to tell the trio who remorselessly endangered an entire city that they are the ones who are monsters.
  • Crossed: Zigzagged, as all humans have the potential to be monsters, with the protagonist pointing out that however horrible the Infected are, they never do anything that ordinary humans cannot also do. Surprisingly thought-provoking for a series that's otherwise nothing but Gorn. The two sequel series confirm this; each has a non-infected human that gives the Crossed a run for their money in the sick bastard department but lacks the excuse of having caught a psycho-virus.
  • Dofus: In the comic book adaptation of the game, the race of Demons were a mostly Punch Clock Evil race, until a pair of human brothers (orphans whose parents were murdered, and spent years as victims of abuse by their peers and teachers afterward) made their way to their dimension, and introduced the Demons to such concepts of human evil as murdering parents before their children and other such cruel torments. The Demon King was ashamed to see that humans could outdo his own kind in the ways of Evil, and ordered the brothers to train his people.
  • ElfQuest: Humans are, at first, simply The Enemy as far as the elven protagonists are concerned: cruel, idiotic, ugly, superstitious and xenophobic, and they've been like this as long as any Wolfrider can readily remember. This is later qualified when greater exposure introduces them to the concept that some humans can be friendly (and the Gliders have basically a tribe of 'tame' humans living at the foot of their mountain), but by and large the elven policy remains to keep avoiding human attention where possible.
    • Interestingly enough, the creators of Elf Quest first got together when Richard Pini replied to a letter by Wendy Fletcher in Silver Surfer, in which she complained about that comic's supposed use of this trope. The two of them corresponded for a while before finally meeting and marrying, and the rest is history.
  • Empowered: Ninjette's father is only a human, but is one of the most vile characters in the series. Among other things, he threatens to cut off her arms and legs so she can't escape again and wants her to become a baby factory to bring their clan's numbers back up. He's also a terrifying, nearly indestructible warrior after a few beers.
  • Green Lantern: The reason Larfleeze (Agent Orange, the embodiment of greed) hasn't left Earth after Blackest Night is because Lex Luthor told him that humans are greedier bastards than he could ever hope to match, and that life on Earth is all about owning things. After spending more time on Earth, Larfleeze has come to agree with Luthor... and he loves Earth for it.
  • The Incredible Hulk: The Hulk doesn't get treated nicely by your average citizen, and certainly not by the army. Granted, his destructive potential is immense and he has a temper problem, but the incarnation he's mostly known for is for the most part much like an animal. In fact, a lot of the destruction he causes is often because he was provoked. In his Merged Hulk incarnation, he traveled to a dystopian future ruled by an evil, insane version of himself called the Maestro. There he explains his backstory and how his world came to be and how humans destroyed each other through a nuclear Armageddon. He remarks to his past self, "For as long as I remember, it was the humans that called us the monsters. In the end, they brought their own destruction. Me, a monster? I wasn't even in their league".
  • In one of the early Justice League of America crossovers featuring the Justice Society of America, an alien called Creator2 plans to destroy both Earth-1 and Earth-2 in order to use the resulting energy to forge a new planet. When one of his underlings points out that this will kill billions of people, Creator2 argues that due to the human race's history of warfare, violence and slavery, the universe will be better off without them.
  • In a short story from Mortadelo y Filemón the eponymous agents are dispatched into a forest to investigate a series of weird occurrences and find themselves surrounded by monsters once they get there. Upon meeting a somewhat-humanoid monster (had a smaller head on top of his normal one) though, it is revealed that these monsters are mostly inoffensive. They were aliens who escaped their planet in a spaceship because their planet was too polluted and wanted to find a better home on Earth...only to find out that Earth was just as polluted if not even worse and that the locals were quite hostile to them. In the end, he and the rest of the monsters leave to find a more peaceful place, and while Filemón comments on how the monsters left, Mortadelo, disguised as a monster no less, comments on how "the monsters actually stayed".
  • Nemesis the Warlock: The comic is all about an alien Anti-Hero defending his people and others against a fascistic Absolute Xenophobe human empire.
  • Seven Soldiers of Victory: In Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers, it's revealed that the cruel and vicious Sheeda, who decimated the utopian civilization of Camelot millions of years in the past and who are the Big Bad of the series, are evolved humans from the far, far future when the sun has turned into a red giant. To sustain their dying society, they plunder past civilizations.
  • Shazam!: In one story, Captain Marvel travels to the very distant future of 81,953, where evolved rats rule the world and capture humans in man-traps. The humans are the remnants of those that remained when the rest of humanity left Earth for the stars, and they want to take back their world from the rats. But the rats are revealed to be a peaceful people who re-educate the humans they capture, teaching them to abhor violence and cruelty and giving them positions of trust among them when they are ready, and use the man-traps as a means of defense against the humans that are still trying to kill them. The humans of the future Earth turn out to be the real villains of this tale when they steal a nitrogen shell from the rats that would wipe out the entire Earth and try to set the weapon off just to get rid of the rats, which Captain Marvel has to stop before dealing with them.
  • The Smurfs: The plot of Peyo's original "King Smurf" comic, later adapted for the cartoon, entails Papa Smurf leaving to look for rare ore, and another smurf (Brainy in the animated version) taking over as leader, then becoming Drunk with Power and becoming a cruel tyrant. This leads to a rebellion among roughly half the smurfs and a civil war between the two factions that nearly destroys the village until Papa Smurf comes back, and after finding out what happened, shames them all into realizing that they're the idiots they are with six words: "You've been acting like human beings!" The moral could not have been clearer; this side of humanity is something that the peace-loving smurfs have always despised.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): Handled... interestingly. The Mobius equivalent of humans, Overlanders, were portrayed as violent thugs, more interested in conquering and destroying nature than living with it like the Mobians. They also waged a global war against the Mobians... which they lost. Inverted in that it was a Mobian conspiracy that started the Great War. Most of the race was destroyed right after Robotnik (who even the Overlanders viewed as a monster) took over. Later, we learn that Mobius was created when humans captured, killed and dissected alien emissaries. The aliens reacted poorly to this and proceeded to use a weapon to wipe out/mutate all life on Earth.
  • Spider-Man: Jason Macendale, the fourth Hobgoblin, cements himself as this when the Demogoblin sacrifices himself to save an innocent child during a fight between himself, Macendale, and Spider-Man, which Macendale mocks him for. Spidey is completely appalled and disgusted at the realization that the literal demon that Macendale originally summoned for power was actually more decent and honorable than Macendale himself.
    Spider-Man: What is wrong with you, Macendale?! This is low, even for you!
  • Sub-Mariner: In Sub-Mariner: The Depths, Namor is savage and kills without remorse, but is ultimately just an inhuman entity trying to defend his home. Stein, by contrast, commits the exact same kind of acts for the infinitely more pathetic and petty reason of simply not wanting to face the fact that he was wrong.
  • Superman/Batman: In The Supergirl from Krypton (2004), Batman forces Darkseid to return Supergirl to the heroes by threatening to destroy his planet. Darkseid commends him on such a ruthless maneuver, stating that it was believable coming from him (and would've failed were it done by a certain Kryptonian and Amazon) because humans are renowned for killing their own kind in order to win.
  • Swamp Thing:
    • In an early issue of Alan Moore's run, Jason Woodrue gains Swamp Thing's power over the Green and decides to take its revenge on animals and humans, who have been abusing plants for far too long. Then Swamp Thing himself shows up and points out that, although humans do abuse nature, if humans and animals were gone, there wouldn't be anybody to convert the gases that the plants themselves needed to survive.
    • Played with in the story Pog, where a group of diminutive aliens, thinly disguised versions of the characters from the classic newspaper comic Pogo, come to Earth looking for a new home, after their own Eden-like world was overtaken by a cruel and greedy race of ape-like creatures called "The Loneliest Animal of All", who forced the other sapient animals of their world to suffer through horrible scientific testing, and murdered them for their meat among other atrocities. Pog is understandably devastated when Swamp Thing shows him that the Loneliest Animal already rules the new world they had found, and treats it just the same.
      Pog: No! Not here too! They can't own this Lady too!!
  • Switchblade Honey: Humans find a planet full of docile creatures and decide to eat them. Oops.
  • The Transformers (IDW): Has Megatron try to convince Optimus, again, that the humans are all violently destructive evil species. He also considers them a threat worthy to get himself rebuilt and come back to exterminate himself. Humans are Xenophobic and actively are trying to kill the Autobots, even before the Decepticons revealed themselves. Groups like the Machination, captured and dissected Sunstreaker, kept him in perpetual agony and tried to control all the Cybertronians. Ultimately, Megatron is in the wrong, as the current attacks are caused by him manipulating the public subconsciously, and groups like the Machination were formed by Decepticons. Megatron has killed thousands and burned numerous worlds, as later books in the series attest to, he's far worse. The series ends with the Autobots abandoning earth, disappointed in the lengths some humans would go to, but still having befriended others.
  • Transformers: Generation One: Played straight and then subverted in the Dreamwave miniseries. Megatron attempts to convince Optimus Prime that as bad as the Decepticons are, humanity is even worse, as a bunch of greedy war profiteers had in fact been using some deactivated Transformer bodies as weapons for their own gain. And as if to not hammer it in enough, during the fight with the Autobots and Decepticons we can see a montage of humanity screwing each other to save their own skins while leaving everyone else to die. The following issue then has Optimus throw this in Megatron's face, as he's always known that humanity is not perfect, but there is just as much good as bad in them (cue montage of people trying to selflessly help each other during the crisis) and the former outweighs the latter.
  • Usagi Yojimbo: The main villain Lord Hikiji is the only human in a world of anthropomorphic animals. He's the reason Usagi has that scar above his eye, and has no master, no father, and ninja problems. Word of God states that the author regrets showing Hikiji.
  • Vampirella: Vampirella comments in a story about vampires and vampire-like creatures, and herself in particular, as mythological creatures, that while she only kills humans for food and only as much as she needs to survive, humans kill each other for innumerable petty reasons.
  • The Walking Dead: The comic has shown that while the apocalypse might have been caused by the zombies, the living people are the ones you really need to fear in the new world. While the dead are predictable and dumb, the living can be even more dangerous because you never know for sure who is good and who is bad or what they will do next. Even the main characters have done morally questionable acts and have at times crossed a line that they thought they would never go over for the sake of their survival.
  • Wandering Star: A major theme. The future Earth of the series is a Crapsack World with a reputation for violence. The Galactic Alliance needed Earth to fight the Bono Kiro because of that unique reputation. Throughout the story, Cassie encounters prejudice from aliens who see all humans as an uncivilized, backward, warlike species.
  • Warlord of Mars: In an alternate future of the series, humans have invaded Mars, driven entire species to extinction and enslaved its population. When Dejah travels into their time period, they quickly find the time portal and declare its intent to reshape the timeline to their will, without considering the consequences.
  • X-Men:
    • Given that the average human in the Marvel Universe seems to look at (and treat) mutants with the same level of rationality and compassion that the white Southerners of the 1930's treated blacks, or, as Magneto often lampshades, like how the Nazi Party in Germany treated Jews in 1938, it's no wonder why mutants continue to flock to Magneto's camp even after the man has been depowered. On the other hand, Magneto has his own Master Race propaganda and there are plenty of mutant villains. On a third hand, everyone in the story be they hero, villain, or muggle is still human.
    • Jonathan Hickman plays with this trope in his more recent run of the series noting that while Marvel humanity's treatment of mutantkind is abhorrent you cannot fault them for reacting this way to a powerful species (not just superpowered individuals like Hulk or Spidey) many of whom have god-like powers and could kill every human on the planet, not helped by the fact even their name "Homo superior" coined by Xaiver seems to imply they mean to replace humanity as the dominant species on the planet. While the readers still root for the X-Men having grown to love and care about them seeing it from their side, you only have to look at mutants from regular humans' prospective to understand how terrifying they are to the state of the world.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Ambience: A Fleet Symphony: While ship girls are flawed, some very much so, it's baseline humans who commit or order most of the worst atrocities in the story. As Damon himself says on a few occasions, despite their artificial nature, ship girls generally are more humane than the actual humans.
  • Actually inverted in the second Big Human on Campus After School omake, which is from the point of view of Guile, one of Ranma's pet giant spiders. Turns out, spiders see humans as gods, due to their civilization-creating abilities. Monsters are considered false gods, base creatures who can only destroy and ape humanity's form because they're jealous. Spider-monsters are "demigods". Even witches (who are a halfway point between humans and monsters, being biologically human but with magical abilities) are considered lesser creatures than humans.
    • The main story also loves subverting and deconstructing it. While humans have done bad things, these were mostly out of ignorance and are nowhere near the level of horrific violence that is considered normal at Youkai Academy. Monsters, on the other hand, tend to very deliberately inflict Disproportionate Retribution on humans for these slights. For example, humanity's conflict with Oyakata. They wanted to turn an uninhabited (to their knowledge) knoll into a garbage dump. Oyakata, in return, wants to kill thousands of humans, using invasive species that would themselves be very bad for the knoll.
  • Code Prime: The series has it as a tossup over whether the human Holy Britannian Empire or the Decepticons are the evilest faction the heroes face. Generally speaking, while the Decepticons are the most destructive, the Britannians are the pettiest and show the most interest in erasing their opponents' culture. Additionally, the Britannians try to imply that their cause is righteous while the Decepticons freely admit to their atrocities and revel in them. Ultimately, the series subverts this - when Britannia crosses one line too many, its citizens decide to break ranks and side with the Autobots and Black Knights. The vast majority of the Decepticons, meanwhile, remain loyal to Megatron, with most of those who do change sides only doing so when the other option is certain death or A Fate Worse Than Death.
  • In Dæmorphing: The Presence of Justice, half of the Animorphs and Gonrod go on a mission to a mundane human prison. Marco is horrified to see so many people his age incarcerated there just because they're Hispanic, while Gonrod (who's from a species of infamously Xenophobic Herbivores) is shocked that humans arrest minors.
  • Epic: The Third Survivor: In the midst of the Zombie Apocalypse in Raccoon City, Chief Irons rapes the Mayor's daughter before killing her in chapter 5, the chapter being fittingly titled "Monsters Can Be Human Too."
  • In the The Faceless (Disguise of Carnivorism) there's the Shinigami Servitors—a group of fanatical humans that feed the Shinigami "undesirables" so that they themselves won't be killed.
  • Played with in Goddess Reborn Chronicle in that humans (and angels) can be as evil as demons are reputed to be but demons are capable as being absolutely good and noble. This it inherited from its parent source but the point is made that choices are always possible, it being its foremost theme-even if the choices are hard or cruel, those choices still exist.
  • That's the whole cause of the Tarbes Arc of Halkegenia Online. If Fernand hasn't destroyed Sayuri's garden, the pixies would not have attacked the village in the first place.
  • In general, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction that involves humansnote  features this trope in one way or another. Even if the humans aren't actively malevolent, they'll still be brooding over how embarrassed they are of humanity's evil compared to that of the ponies (who are sometimes painted up by the authors as completely saintly, even though the canon itself shows that's not the case at all), or become an unwitting gateway through which evil and corruption enters the pony universe.
    • In the original Conversion Bureau fic, this was actually unintentional on the author's part, as the idea behind the story was to explain his own personal hypothesis as to why Equestria has no humans (with a little bit of personal Wish-Fulfillment tossed in), but his inexperience as a writer caused the story to be filled to the brim with all sorts of Unfortunate Implications he never meant to convey. Nevertheless, humans are hardly portrayed in a flattering light and the narrative makes it come across like the ponies are automatically morally better than humans simply because they're ponies, and the eponymous conversion process that turns humans into ponies heavily implies that the converts are fundamentally changed by the process to get rid of the negative aspects of their "human nature".
      • The recursive fanfics written under the TCB umbrella are another ballpark in themselves. The stories that play the premise straight will play this trope straight, with the stories by the infamous author Chatoyance being some of the biggest offenders. On the other side, the multitudes of Deconstruction Fics written in response against these common themes go for the Humans Are Flawed route and are eager to point out that the ponies are hardly a saintly species, often to the point of Screw You, Elves!.
    • Another fic, The Thessalonica Legacy, subverts this nicely. The humans are violent, warlike, and sometimes outright murderous compared to the ponies, but it's because they had to be in order to survive their harsher universe, putting them more in Humans Are Flawed territory than here.
    • ARTICLE 2 goes out of its way to avert this. Although the human character in the story, Shane, is aggressive and rude to the ponies on many occasions, this is treated more as a difference in cultures and neither species is shown as inherently superior. It is also pointed out multiple times that Shane is just one person, a soldier, and in a very stressful situation, so it's not really fair to use him as proof of any faults in humanity as a whole.
    • Played with in The Last Human; humans are mostly remembered as aggressive and vicious predators who would make war among themselves for seemingly no reason. At the same time, they are acknowledged as being highly advanced and creative, and capable of great deeds, hence their reputation as "the creature of contradictions".
    • This is the Life: A Tale of a Human in Equestria seemingly deconstructs and plays with this trope in the chapter Superiority. The titular human and Bon Bon get into such an argument with the former pointing out several famous historical human figures and admonishing ponykind by bringing up Nightmare Moon's motivation, and the latter countering by bringing up several famous historical ponies and bringing up "the nutcase with the little moustache who tried to take over the world." It only gets sillier from there, neither side wins, and it ends with a back scratch.
    • Mark of Destiny simultaneously subverts and plays the trope straight. Humanity makes peaceful contact with ponies and establishes friendly diplomatic relations — only to make ponies utterly miserable with everyday bureaucracy and cultural imperialism after learning that humans can get superpowers from visiting Equestria and earning a Cutie Mark.
    • This is the theme of You Know Nothing Of Agony: the tortures man can inflict on another man surpass anything an Equestrian villain would ever dream of.
  • In The Man with No Name, the Doctor goes on one of his famous rants when he finds out what the Alliance did to River's brain. However, he also does his famous Humans Are Special speeches, both about River and about crew of Serenity in general, and notes - when discussion of Gallifreyan Psychic Powers comes up and Simon wonders if they were artificial - that he can see a Gallifreyan Mad Scientist doing something just like that.
  • Mr. Fixit: Greg Veder aka the Unknown Parahuman views the Slaughterhouse Nine as far worse than the Endbringers, despite a much lower kill count. His power lets him know that the Endbringers are either programmed or forced to attack cities (he's not sure which) and there's no emotional investment in it; they're basically just doing their jobs. But the Slaughterhouse Nine choose to commit their atrocities and openly enjoy them, including leaving behind traps for anyone trying to help in the aftermath. To a lesser extent, he feels similarly about heroes and villains in general, stating that most of them are just making the world worse, even if they don't intend to. He only does Search and Rescue work specifically because he wants help as many people as possible.
  • The Night Unfurls:
    • Olga and Chloe believe wholeheartedly that every human is only capable of great evil, due to the Fantastic Racism dark elves faced, together with their subsequent enslavement in Eostia. To say that they are not happy about relying on Kyril, a human (well, humanoid, actually), for their Great Escape is certainly an understatement.
    • Discussed in Chapter 7 of the remastered version as Kyril questions Olga on whether her hatred of humanity due to her belief of this trope "makes her special".
      Kyril: She hates humanity, just as much as you do. Tell me... do you think that makes you special?
      Olga: Are you mocking me?
      Kyril: A good person would have told you that not all humans are like that. A wiser person would say that humanity has the greatest capacity to do great good and deep evil.
      Olga: Great good does not involve enslaving others to use as toys. Great good does not excuse the hundreds of years that humanity has done harm upon my people.
      Kyril: And so that does not excuse them fighting back?
    • Also a prevalent view amongst Wild Ones, the tribes who have lived here before the Eostians took over and forced them out of their homes. At present, many of them find themselves on the receiving end of the Leaping Lizards, who are human slavers.
  • Deconstructed in NoHoper when Nerferet argues this about how humans oppress vampyres for no reason. In response Light lists dates and details of all known vampyre attacks.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines shows that there are many Pokémon who hold the view of humans being "violent, unruly and destructive". Iris' Dragonite grandfather acknowledges they're capable of great destruction, having witnessed Nimbasa City being razed to the ground in the past.
  • In Renegade Reinterpretations, a Mass Effect fanfiction, the human race's first contact with the wider galaxy happened much earlier, and with the Batarians. Humanity spends the next hundred years playing catch-up, and is only able to survive by stooping to the barbarians level. In this timeline, Cerberus are viewed as heroes for experiments that even the canon Cerberus would have thought appalling. Once Humanity decides to go on the warpath against the Batarians (and is capable of doing so), the Citadel offers to make humanity a member race, give them reparations, money, land, medicine, technology, and all former Batarian territory. All they had to do was NOT invade the Batarian Homeworld. Humanity's response? "They went to the trouble of looking up what the largest fleet in the galaxy had been so they could surpass it by a time and a half."
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
    • The crux of Akua Shuzen's beliefs during Acts III and IV. She openly describes humans as "more barbaric than most monsters" and cannot comprehend why Moka would want to coexist with them. Eventually, however, she undergoes a Heel–Face Turn, and her time with Tsukune and co. helps to restore her faith.
    • Talon Ryashen of Act VI believes this, explicitly telling Kyouko that she's lucky to be stranded in the monster world; he even quotes the trope name word for word. It's later revealed that he came to believe this after he was turned into a monster hybrid by Fairy Tale, after which his family promptly rejected him in disgust.
    • In Act VI chapter 25, Moka and co. call out the HDA for their Van Helsing Hate Crimes mentality on monsters, pointing out that they treat all monsters as evil beasts the minute a single rogue monster acts out while ignoring the fact that humans can be just as bad. Mizore even explicitly tells them in disgust that the HDA themselves are more of monsters than the gang. This reaches the HDA director, who agrees to negotiate with Moka and Akasha peacefully.
  • RWBY: Epic of Remnant: Salem declares this, saying humans are full of corruption and discrimination. In contrast, the Grimm, despite being created to destroy, care about each other and form unified communities.
  • Humans in Stockholm Syndrome manage to be pretty terrible even compared to their portrayal in the original. Their Fantastic Racism goes so far that most humans see no problem in enslaving the faunus and treating them in a way that borders on Stupid Evil, as they are actively damaging their own property. Apparently, they even keep stones in the public areas just to throw them at any stray faunus. Yang, being something of an exception, admits that humanity is messed up and doesn't even try to make Blake hate humans any less.
  • Weightless (Mass Effect): Shepard preferred other species (turians in particular) to her own. At one point, she flat out said "I hate humanity" to Karin. Her greatest enemy in this story, according to Word of God, is her own disbelief in the value of her species. As Nihlus said "He had never, in all his travels, seen a species so cruel to its own children."

  • Devo, Beautiful World. Especially the video. Actually, most of the band's work tends to involve this trope in one form or another.
  • The music video for Do the Evolution by Pearl Jam showcases humanity's evil actions throughout history, though it also implies that life on Earth in general has always been naturally savage and brutal.
  • Parodied in "Robots" by Flight of the Conchords. Robots have annihilated all humans for this trope, but one of the lieutenants notes that they did the same thing as them by killing them.
    Captain, do you not see the irony, by destroying the humans because of their destructive capabilities, we have become like... do you see... see what we've done?
  • "A Trick of the Tail" by Genesis involved a satyr-like "Beast" venturing from his paradise out of boredom and coming across the human race. Not only did he consider the beings strange, he was subject to their mistreatment as he was caged as an exhibit.
    But soon they grew bored of their prey.
    "'The beast that can talk'?
    More like a freak or publicity stunt!"
  • One of the major themes of The Protomen's CDs, especially the first one.
  • Ayreon does this to great effect in Unnatural Selection from 01011001.
    We gave them feelings, what did they sense?
    Shout at the world in their defense.
    We gave them science what did they do?
    They built a bomb and they used it too!
    We gave them wisdom, what did they learn?
    Wore out the planet and made it burn!
    We gave them armor, what did they make?
    Nuclear weapons for their own sake!
    We gave them insight, what did they see?
    Vanquish the noble, enslave the free!
    We gave them wisdom, what did they seek?
    Destroying all that's within their reach!
    We gave them language, what did they say?
    They put the planet in disarray!
    We gave them dreams!
    And what did they dream?!
  • Man Is the Bastard. That is all.
  • Crime of The Century (The song, and maybe the album) is likely this, or some group jumping the Moral Event Horizon.
  • Although it's not directly stated, and not that the Moral Guardians cared, The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" strongly suggests that the Devil in question is humanity itself.
    After all, it was you and me.
  • The Ego Likeness song "Song for Samael" certainly seems to imply this:
    And man is just a child
    Defective and diseased
    And I grow so fearful for their kin
    As I watch the sickness breed
    Some will find them worthy of salvation
    But to what end?
    I've seen a man rape his only child
    And murdered one who he called a friend
    Meet me at the Red Sea
    Meet me at the Red Sea
    There are too many thieves in the kingdom
    I will give you the key
    Will you take care of this for me?
    • They use this trope again in "Funny Olde World":
    Hey there demon!
    I hear you had a revelation
    That it's out of your hands
    Whether or not we deny our own salvation
    But I don't blame you
    For being torn at either side
    This world is really not all bad
    Beneath our vanity and pride
    And you don't tempt us
    We forge our own paths and our own ways
    And you can't possibly hurt us
    Worse than the way we hurt ourselves each day
  • Arch-Enemy's "Beast of Man" uses the page quote in its lyrics.
  • Pick a Heavy Metal song, any of them, and chances are it's about this.
  • Pick a Cattle Decapitation song and chances are that the lyrics will inevitably be some form of this trope. Travis Ryan really, really hates humanity.
  • Crydebris use this trope as fans of Studio Ghibli. A major theme in a few of their songs are how humans are destroying the Earth.
    Burning Forest
    Trees are steepened
    To relation
    Your lines violate that
    It took my breath away
  • One interpretation of The Megas songs "Fly on a Dog" and "Just Another Machine" are that Megaman has decided that even if he could Become a Real Boy, he wouldn't want to because humans are bastards.
  • The Australian band Skyhooks invokes this in Horror Movie, describing the scenes of violence and terror in the horror movie on TV. Near the end of the song we get to The Reveal: the "movie" is actually the evening news and the violence is all real.
  • Powerman 5000's song How to be a Human basically describes humans as shameless, lying, greedy gluttons with a penchant for violence; the videoclip even begins with title cards indicating that it's basically an alien PSA reel.
  • In Joanna Newsom's "Monkey & Bear", as Monkey begins to treat Bear more like a slave, Monkey also comes to resemble humans more. This parallels Animal Farm, in which the pigs had a similar character arc.
  • Although Starbomb's song Crashervania is a Monster Mash, the real monster is Simon Belmont, who kills them all for no reason other than being left out.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • When merpeople are concerned, expect a subversion as well. Granted, humanity has had a conflicted relationship with the oceans, but it's usually only mermen that exhibit any misanthropy as a result of it; it doesn't seem to stop mermaids from seeking out human boyfriends. The Inter Species Romance between human and merpeople is a modern thing; in traditional tales, all merpeople hated humans.
  • Definitely inverted in the earliest writings of Greek mythology, where the gods are the ones who are bastards: they greedily hoard power, bully the all-but-defenseless humans, and respond with self-righteous homicidal vengeance when some human offends them in any way large or small. In the more satirical stories, the gods will come off as Alpha Bitches or Jerk Jocks who get their comeuppance at the hands of plucky, crafty humans. Only as Greek society became more civilized — and, therefore, more liable to preach respect for traditional authority — did the gods begin to be depicted heroically, and their punishments of mortals begin to seem somewhat justified.
  • Christianity states this is the whole reason for the Incarnation and Sacrifice of Jesus. Paul even yells at other Christians for having sex with their stepmothers. (1 Corinthians 5)
  • The Bible delves into this territory at times, especially in the Old Testament.
  • New Agers often believe that there are many alien races out there watching over humanity, but are withholding assistance because we're too violent and nasty to each other and aren't Perfect Pacifist People like they are.

  • In the world of The Account, a podcast audio drama, one-third of the humans in the Midlands turned into an army of psychopaths and got exiled to Earth. No one quite knows why. Now that they're trickling back in, and apparently sane, they're treated somewhat gingerly by the natives.

  • Journey into Space:
    • In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, the Time Travellers encountered a vicious, violent species on Earth: early humans. They're not convinced that modern humans are any better.
    • In The World in Peril, it is revealed that the Martians had previously attempted to settle on Earth. They found the inhabitants too violent and were driven off.

  • The humans in Red Rover are oftentimes worse than the monsters... and the monsters used to be people.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the expanded Dungeons & Dragons core setting based on Greyhawk, Humanity's creator deity is Zarus who claims to be the first human, a Lawful Evil Deity of bigotry and human supremacy. This in a world where every other core race's primary deity is good aligned. Worse yet, he's a greater deity, meaning he has a flipping ton of worshipers, all of them human.
  • In Empire of the Petal Throne, when humans invaded the planet of Tekumel, they found the planet being shared peacefully by two native species who had the kind of technology we have now in Real Life. Humans, meanwhile, have a super-advanced starfaring civilisation, so in their minds, the Tekumelani were inferior. Humans have allied with other advanced races in the past, but instead they terraformed the everliving hell out of Tekumel, rearranged its orbit and gravity, and tried their level best to exterminate the "primitive" natives. It's noted that most other starfaring races wouldn't have even invaded the planet at all.
  • In Iron Kingdoms most wilderness races tend to view Humans as such and for a good reason. The Iron Kingdoms are a bunch of a human dominant steampunk nations with magitech. They are expanding human civilization and polluting the world destroying the cultures that live in the wilderness. It doesn't help that the god that created Humanity, Menoth is oppressive and encourages building cities, walls and burning things with fire. The war between Khador and Cygnar destroyed the Trollkin kriels and Cygnar even got the Trollkin to fight "minor Protectorate of Menoth raids" but was in fact placed in front of a massive Skorne invasion. When the Trollkin asked for the lands promised to them Cygnar had already settled Human refugees in them forcing the Trollkin that didn't live in human civilization to fight a desperate war against both human and wilderness factions just to find a home. The humans in the wilderness aren't better than the Iron Kingdoms. The blackclads of Circle Orboros are human druids who want to protect the wilderness from Human civilization but consider every other race as nothing more than puppets to be used to achieve their goals.
  • In the Innistrad block of Magic: The Gathering, the entire plane is crawling with horrible monsters eager to prey on humans. Some humans adapted by becoming the worst monsters of all.
    • Avacyn reaches this conclusion at the beginning of Shadows of Innistrad. She proceeds to become a crazed Knight Templar slaughtering villages.
  • Humans aren't all horrible people in Rocket Age, but every super power is out indulging in colonialism and conquest, with the Nazis and Italians placing large swathes of the Martian population into labour camps.
  • The Imperium of Man of Warhammer 40,000 is a xenocidal, fanatical, corrupt, mass-murdering apparatus. Standard protocol to encountering human mutants, artificial intelligences, or sapient aliens is to exterminate them to the last, the vast majority of their own citizens live in absolutely hellish Hive Worlds, they routinely murder billions of their own citizens for reasons varying from "to cut down excess population" to "so no one else can have this planet", and all of this is because they were conquered and bound to the will of a sorcerous overlord - imagine the Orcs of The Lord of the Rings if they were the protagonist faction and had a few decent subfactions. They have foil in the form of the smaller, multi-species Tau Empire, who while still grey in a Black-and-Grey Morality setting, don't simply genocide all other races or torch their own planets out of spite, and are much more successful for it.
    • Notably, humans are the only genocidal species that fully chooses to be so, despite several sources establishing that most aliens are harmless and that maintaining clients and allies is more efficient than extermination. Only the Dark Eldar, a fringe faction of the otherwise True Neutral Eldar race, can make the same claim. The Orks, Necrons, Daemons, and Tyranids are just as murderous as the Imperium, but the former three are artificial creations made to be that way, while the latter aren't sapient.
    • Also worth noting is Chaos, the malevolent spiritual forces that threaten the lives of all denizens of the galaxy. Chaos is one of the Imperium's number one enemies, and all the nasty stuff the Imperium is willing to do out of pragmatism is stuff Chaos would do just For the Evulz. There's a twist, though; humans make up the vast majority of Chaos worshipers. When The Legions of Hell aren't staffed by demons, their ranks are filled by humans who joined them. Sure that's partially because the Orks and T'au don't fully get what it is, and the Necrons and Tyranids have no souls, but the amount of Chaos-worshiping humans is still alarming. Even when the Eldar accidentaly created Slaanesh, very few Eldar if any are actually willing to serve they - meanwhile there are entire armies of humans pledging loyalty to Slaanesh, and this isn't even mentioning those who serve Khorne, Nurgle, Tzeentch, or Chaos Undivided (most of whom are, again, humans).
    • Also on the topic of Chaos: the Warp is a mirror of the souls of those living in real space. It used to be a calm ocean of shapeless psychic energy until the emergence of sentient life with all its roiling emotions started to turn it turbulent. This began long before mankind appeared on the galactic stage, but only then did the Warp really start turning into the literal hell it is by the time the game is set, giving birth to Chaos as we know it. In other words, humans created hell just by existing, and this very fact has since created a positive feedback loop that makes sure Chaos will always exist as long as mankind does. Granted, the other sentient races are contributing their part to sustaining Chaos, but with humans being the second-most numerous sentient species behind the Orks, they're the main culprits.
  • The World of Darkness series, both Old and New, seem to hold to a viewpoint best described as follows: "Humans are Bastards, but frankly, compared to the rest of reality, they're small-timers." Both Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Werewolf: The Forsaken come close to playing it straight, while Promethean: The Created comes close to subverting it (Prometheans admit humans have their flaws, but desperately want to be them because they know being a Promethean is far worse), while Changeling: The Lost subverts it outright (Dancers In Dusk states few things rekindle a changeling's much-needed faith in other people more than visiting a stranger's dreams for the first time).
    • However, this trope is played extremely straight by editorial edict when dealing with most real-world historical events of the past century, doubly so when that event is the Holocaust. Charnel Houses of Europe, a Wraith: The Oblivion supplement, completely denied that supernatural powers had any part in causing the Holocaust in the WoD, that it really was the product of Nazi racial supremacist theory and genocidal impulse. (Supernaturals did take advantage of the Holocaust, but the responsibility for it rests entirely with the humans who did it.)
    • Chronicles of Darkness somewhat averts or subverts this, with the idea that most humans do mean well, but are also subconsciously aware of the kind of world they live in, and as such are terrified, making them prone to callous and stupid behavior.
    • Hunter: The Vigil is all over the place, with the various Compacts and Conspiracies ranging from Yuri's Group, a support group for both victims of the supernatural and the monsters themselves, to The Union, a loose collection of blue-collar workers who are completely willing to leave the supernatural alone so long as they don't harm their neighbourhood, to the Malleus Maleficarum, the Catholic Inquisition who are completely willing to use torture and want to wipe out all supernaturals, but do actually want to help humanity, to the Ashwood Abbey, a collection of aristocrats who hunt (and do worse things to) the supernatural (and the natural) for their own amusement. And even then, it's made quite clear that every other Hunter Conspiracy and Compact hate the Abbey.
  • The secret history of KULT has it so that, before being enslaved by the Demiurge, humans were once immortal, transcendent, genderless starchildren who played with reality like clay and danced about to their passionate whims. They were also absolute tyrants who created and tossed aside lesser beings after subjecting them to an endless array of delights and horrors, to the point that most other "horrors" in the night view the idea of humans breaking the Illusion and reclaiming their mantle with utter dread.

  • William Shakespeare, Richard III:
    No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity, but I know none, therefore am no beast.
  • A classic example from The Threepenny Opera: "What keeps mankind alive? The fact that millions are daily tortured, stifled, punished, silenced and oppressed. Mankind can keep alive thanks to its brilliance, in keeping its humanity repressed. And for once you must try not to shriek the facts: mankind is kept alive by bestial acts."

    Web Animation 
  • Played for Laughs in Thrilling Intent When Ashe suggests this after seeing Markus and Kyr crowd around the corpse of a corrupted spiritfolk she killed to harvest its bits.
    Ashe: I'm starting to wonder who the real monsters are...
  • Nearly all the human characters shown so far in Helluva Boss are either completely stupid, overtly cruel, or flat-out murderous. While the demons from Hell aren't any better, they are still depicted as having sympathetic traits in one way or another unlike the humans.

  • Black Tapestries at first shows this, with pretty much the main antagonist thinking that all Humans Are The Real Monsters, even though at a later point, the Kaetif (anthros) are shown to be just as vengeful as humans are.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • It isn't so much "Humans are the Real Monsters" as "Muggles are the Real Monsters." Pandora justifies her attempts To Unmasque the World by pointing out that whereas in the past, magic needed to be controlled because an army powered by magic would decimate one with naught more than swords and arrows, now any random fool with a gun can best a wizard — and humans have far deadlier implements than mere guns, such as ICBMs.
    • This trope is applied in a zig-zagged way when an elven archwizard gets flanked by two former humans turned bloodthirsty vampires, one of whom has embraced monsterhood pyromania entirely and is too stupid to be a serious threat, while the other pulls out a revolver and would have killed the wizard. Also previously, one human criminal was planning to do all sorts of horrible, horrible things For the Evulz when he was hunted down by the pyromaniac for fun.
    • Grace has a mental breakdown when she realizes everything her psychopathic brother Damien said about humans was based on real human history. It was all taken massively out of context, though.
  • This is pretty much the motive of Eternal Night's Red Vampires after what happened in the far distant past. Seems that these guys can't let go of a grudge.
  • Goblins seems to have this a lot, where the perfectly nice goblins and other "evil" humanoids are always being persecuted by the bastardy PC races, though occasionally adventurers will notice the contradiction.
  • Played with in I'm the Grim Reaper. Sinners are everywhere in this series, with their sins varying from almost silly sounding to outright murder. It is worth noting that Scarlet can only see sinners; she cannot see the virtuous, only archangels can do that.
  • In Jack (David Hopkins), the Big Bad isn't Satan, but a human who has become the personification of Envy. However, he's the only remaining human in Hell — it is assumed the rest have redeemed themselves and have moved on.
  • When humans appear in The Kenny Chronicles they tend to refer to Tarnekis as animals or rant about how they are a danger. Of course Tarnekis were created by pirates (who they are implied to have killed) and some of their ships were stolen (though the Ballyhoo was bought).
  • In Kevin & Kell, whenever humans show up they're generally portrayed as the equivalent of Sealed Evil in a Can (and once, literally). The inhabitants of the furry world often make disparaging remarks about how stupid our world is in comparison to theirs (in which sentient creatures constantly slaughter and devour each other without so much as a hint of remorse or guilt).
  • Melanie Gillman's "The King's Forest" uses this as the twist. A young, ailing girl who trespasses in the titular forest to eat a magic flower ends up befriending the guardsman, all the while warning her of a beast with ten spikes and sharp black claws that loves to hunt children for sport. For the majority of the comic, the guardsman does not see this beast and only increasingly becomes skeptical. It's not until the end of the comic that we see the ill girl was talking about the King, who reveals his true colors when he and his entourage fatally cut her down and then nonchalantly ask the guardsman to rid the forest of their unsightly "beast". The guardsman obliges.
  • The Last Human In A Crowded Galaxy: This is the prevailing belief among aliens, despite no human sightings in over a millennium. The titular last human Sarya (who doesn't know what she is) plays "human" with other children, in which she acts as a terrifying, acid-spitting monster.
  • Moon Crest 24: Conversed by Aleck von Zander, and appears to be the reason for his Fallen Angel status, as he preaches that vampires were forced to protect something they didn't believe in.
  • Nedroid: Played for laughs in Beartato and Reginald with Space Reginald's reaction to Earth.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • The prequel book Start of Darkness does this with humans killing off goblins and other races solely for being classified as evil, even if they weren't doing anything. However, the goblin Redcloak, whose village was slaughtered by human paladins and went on to become The Dragon, shows himself to be just as bad in his own way, with his hypocrisy and less-than-balanced view of humans being brought up both in the book and in the online strips.
    • Tsukiko uses this as justification for her necrophilia in this strip. The undead are the antithesis of humans, but since people are jerks, the undead must be good.
  • In this fandubbed comic from Pet Foolery (by the creator of Pixie and Brutus), a warrior faces off against a dragon, who lists the titles that were given to him by those who seeked, and failed, to slay him. The dragon then breaks down in tears and asks the hero why do people want to kill him, since he just sits inside his cave minding his own business, not bothering anyone, and yet counteless heroes go on a quest to kill him for no good reason, and he's the one called a monster for simply for defending himself. The hero just scratches his head and gives out an embarrased "oh, wow..."
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal had a particularly good example as to why Humans Are Bastards
  • In this comic by Jim Benton, a monster hiding under the bed sneaks and watches tv news. He responds:
    "I can't believe I thought I was good at this."
  • Terinu's race was wiped out by the humans, after it was discovered that they were the power source of the Big Bad. Made worse because Ferin are inherently adorable critters. Of course, said Big Bad isn't very nice either, what with enslaving races and making them their power source, so it's a definite I Did What I Had to Do situation.
  • TwoKinds: The majority of humans in this setting are shown to be Lawful Neutral at best and Neutral Evil at worst; almost every human wants either the subjugation or extermination of all the "animals"; some humans will knowingly date Keidran, but only if they choose to act like humans, while most accepted Trace as their leader because he sent them to war to murder thousands of neutral Keidran families. Worse yet, the Templar are planning to screw everyone over by enslaving the Keidran through signal broadcasts; the only thing worse than driving all the Keidran feral is if they are completely brainwashed to obey the Templars, effectively subjugating humanity by means of an army of teeth to the few humans who can use extensive and sadistic magic. They were also planning to turn the Basitin's brains into mush and/or drive them Ax-Crazy.
    • One of the few "nice" Templars is a perverted slave trader who has trouble understanding his sister's feelings and will resort to drastic measures if he loses control. This is implied to be the general mindset of humans who aren't homicidally prejudiced against Keidran.
    • On the other hand, the other races really do have serious issues; Keidran seem to be the ones that gave humans the idea of enslaving entire families for fun and profit, and the Eastern Basitins are stuck in a militaristic dictator state by their stubborn obedience. For instance, the whole reason why Laura met Trace is because Trace was busy murdering a group of Keidran slavers when he found Laura caged up. He let her go because she looked like his wife. Luckily for the Basitins, their king is a Reasonable Authority Figure with an interest in foreign cultures (and implied to be a "disobedient and in charge" Western), but Keith's second trial shows all the flaws of maintaining Lawful Stupid; they even consider insulting the law "blasphemy". The theme of the series seems to be that everyone has serious issues, and you can't just blame different cultures for your problems; in fact, it looks like acquiring assistance from other cultures leads to the solutions for most of the problems in the series.
  • Unsounded: Multiple Senet Beasts and "Two-Toes" make claims of "Spider-Paws" utter monstrousness, but the comic itself presents humans as deeply flawed and capable of monstrous things, just like the Senets and Inak whose distrust and hatred of humanity is perfectly understandable and rooted in the genocidal actions of human governments and organized religions against them.
  • In Zenith, Zenith suffers a Heroic BSoD after getting shot at by humans and his Mama Bear dying because of them... well, sort of Zenith's fault for not being a man and dealing with a shot at his fin, but the other dolphins of the steel harbor tell him You Did Everything You Could.

    Web Original 
  • Cradleland takes place on a planet populated by Transplanted Humans. Their ancestors were slaves who were sold to aliens by humans on Earth during the Middle Ages.
  • Deadcoders Reviews: XANA in Code Lyoko is treated this way. In the blog, XANA encounters the horrors of French Engineering, French Mental Healthcare, the insanity of Franz Hopper, and Aelita; and reacts with Kill It with Fire, complete with an homage to S Fdebris's skewering of Captain Janeway.
  • Gaea's Rising features cute, lovable, intelligent robots that humanity wants to wipe out, just because the robots don't want to be slaves.
  • Goodbye Strangers: Many strangers kill humans in gruesome ways but you can't hate them for it because they don't have minds in the same way that people or animals do. They are more like a strange force of nature than villains. Humans meanwhile extract drugs and other useful substances from them, use them as living batteries, and even sexually abuse them. While it is debatable if strangers even have enough of a mind to suffer from what humans do to them, it is the humans who also end up destroying the environment and turning the world into a hellish dystopia in the VHZ timeline.
  • Pops up from time to time in SCP Foundation. Between all the eldritch horrors and haunted items, some of the most nightmarish stories stem from people abusing the paranormal to satiate their own dark whims. In a world of Black-and-Grey Morality, the Foundation is A Lighter Shade of Grey that had the original intention of solely protecting humanity but frequently finds itself protecting supernatural creatures from those that would exploit and abuse them.

    Web Videos 
  • Bedtime Stories (YouTube Channel): In a series that recounts stories bizarre events and probable creatures that varies on Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane, two episodes deal with horrible, awful people who are worse than any evil spirit or violent monster.
    • "25 Cromwell Street" recounts the story of Fred and Mary West, a married couple who committed rape, torture and murder to young girls, including their own daughters.
    • "The Man from the Train" two-parter involved a series of brutal axe murders likely committed by a man named Paul Mueller, the titular serial killer.
  • The Nostalgia Critic likes to mock how Anvilicious this trope can get in the form of PSA-style skits whenever he reviews movies involving a Green Aesop, eventually subverting it when one PSA points out that animals aren't exactly better than humans, either.
  • Subverted in Positively Dreadful, when Sideburns is looking at a commercial where a man harvests the eye balls of monsters like chicken eggs.
    "I guess the real monster was man. Or maybe it was the little multi-eyed mutants. They look pretty monstery."

    Western Animation 
  • Aaahh!!! Real Monsters: In "Spontaneously Combustible", Ickis becomes the subject of scorn and rumors after being diagnosed with a disease that might make him spontaneously combust. The Gromble scolds the other students for mistreating Ickis and driving him to run away from the school, saying they were acting like "a bunch of humans" for letting their fear of the unknown get the better of them.
  • In Adventures of the Gummi Bears, the Gummis are in hiding because humans were too determined to get their hands on their technology.
  • In Adventure Time, this trope is played completely straight with Dr. Gross. Basically, in a show inhabited by strange creatures, humanoids, Eldritch Abominations, demons and aliens this woman (a mere human) manages to be one of the cruelest, most evil characters.
  • The Animals of Farthing Wood, played straight in the first season, where humans are either evil hunters, foolishly ignorant, or completely apathetic as to how their actions are hurting wildlife. Balanced out a bit in the second season, with the arrival of the Park Warden as a human ally.
  • Aladdin: The Series: The one-shot villain Arbutus is a plant spirit who captures Jasmine as a means of collecting a debt from the Sultan-who, years before the episode's events, stole a flower from his garden-; during a conversation with Jasmine, he reveals that he views humanity in low regard with their destruction of the natural world.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Wan Shi Tong, the knowledge spirit in the shape of an owl, has come to believe this of humanity, saying that the only reason humans ever come seeking information is so they can use it to destroy others.
    • This is interesting because it provides a subtle and uncommented piece of evidence against this: While Sokka does indeed use the planetarium to figure out how to get an edge up on the Fire Nation, and pissing Wan Shi Tong off royally, the archaeologist the gaang is traveling with decides to stay behind in the sinking library, presumably trapped forever, because he just wants to be able to learn for knowledge's own sake.
    • The sequel series The Legend of Korra follows up on this. The second series deals with spirits who mostly, in the past and in the present, pretty much look down on humans. The antagonist intends to "correct the balance" by releasing the evil spirit Vaatu and become a Dark Avatar and allowing the spirits to roam the material world. Wan Shi Tong is shown helping him, due to anger at humans for using his library's knowledge. The archaeologist is shown long since dead, having not been allowed to leave the library for food and starved to death.
  • Ben 10: Most of Ben's Rogues Gallery is made up of your usual evil aliens and supernatural beings, but one of his most ruthless and darkest enemies that unnerves him the most winds up being Captain Nemesis, a totally mundane human who has no real powers, but is a cold-blooded and vindictive murderer who has no compunctions about leaving a trail of corpses in his wake in his desperate desire for fame and revenge on Ben. Notably, he ends up being one of the few villains to explicitly kill another human twice, murdering his surgeon offscreen and killing a man in a carjacking with a Gory Discretion Shot.
  • Castlevania (2017) has this as the justification for Dracula's war on humanity, following the death of his wife at the hands of the Corrupt Church. When his son, Alucard, tries to explain that his plan would result in the deaths of countless innocents, Dracula spits back that he considers no one innocent: anyone could've stood up to the church, and in not doing so, were complicit in his wife's death in his eyes. In the second season, there are hints that this attitude extends to all of humanity, the living and the undead, as the vampires in his war council were not exactly sterling examples of man's best. It's pointed out that exterminating humanity would also be bad for vampires: no humans means no blood, and no blood means starvation. Dracula doesn't elaborate on how he would address this, and it is suggested that is the entire point of his "war": to kill everyone, himself included — or as Alucard puts it, penning "history's longest suicide note".
  • Dante's Inferno: An Animated Epic — A major point Lucifer tries to make to Dante's captured wife's soul, Beatrice. Trying to convince her that mankind is forever destined to fall into hell by their weak minds and free will, he pushes the point further by filling her head with images of mankind's greatest atrocities throughout time, one of them an image of Adolf Hitler and his empire, which suggest that Lucifer can foresee the future.
  • This trope, as it relates to animals, is spoofed in an episode of Family Guy where Death goes on a date with a woman who works at a pet shop. She insists that there'd be no more wars if people were more like animals, and he says "What are you talking about? Animals fight all the time!"
  • Futurama:
    • The use of this trope in an episode of The Twilight Zone is spoofed using its Parody Show Within a Show The Scary Door: a scientist declares that he's "combined the DNA of the world's most evil animals (a lion, snake, scorpion, and shark) to make the most evil creature of them all." A human then emerges from some sort of cloning tube, and, just in case that's too subtle, declares, "It turns out it's man!" to lampoon the ham-handed way the point is often made by other shows.
    • Parodied when Fry and Leela get superpowers: after fighting a villain known as The Zookeeper, who uses well-trained (or possibly sapient) non-human Earth animals to aid him in crime, Fry declares that "the most dangerous animal of all... is The Zookeeper!"
    • To quote Professor Farnsworth:
      Pr. Farnsworth: Also animals never had a war. Who's the real animal?
    • Parodied and lampshaded in the "Anthology of Interest" segment "Terror at 500 Feet," a Parody Episode of The Iron Giant (and its source novel, Ted Hughes' The Iron Man), as a 500-foot tall Bender lays dying:
      Bender: I came here with a simple dream... A dream of killing all humans... And this is how it must end? Who's the real seven-billion-ton robot monster here? Not I. Not... I.
    • Played straight and lampshaded in the episode "War Is the H-Word"
      Pink Brain Ball: Wait! Stop! We give in to all of Earth's demands. The war is over; our home planet is yours!
      [Bender, Fry, and Henry Kissinger's head cheer]
      Fry: Hey, wait a minute, this is your home planet? We're the evil invading aliens?
      Orange Brain Ball: Correct.
      Bender: Then I guess you learned a valuable lesson: don't mess with Earth!
  • Gargoyles:
    • Demona believes this trope and attempts to recruit Brooklyn after a bad incident with a biker gang by giving him a tour of unpleasant incidents around New York. However, after Brooklyn realizes Demona is a backstabbing megalomaniac, he realizes he had been manipulated. It turns out that Demona is also a genocidal murderer who betrayed her own clan, there are other gargoyle antagonists in later episodes, and plenty of humans in the show are good people. As for the "lesson," when Brooklyn describes it to Goliath, he dismisses its damning nature with his inimitable authority as a "half-truth that Demona has thoroughly embraced, but it's not the whole truth." Goliath also states in the 5-part pilot that "There is good and evil in all of us, human and gargoyle alike."
    • Gargoyles overall has a nuanced view of this trope that makes it about as hard to pin down as in real life. After all, the thing that sets off the whole series is basically one of the humans of the castle trying to help the gargoyles (by forsaking his fellow humans), only for it to backfire in his (and their) face spectacularly; so you could take it either as "humans are good, bad, and everything in-between", or "humans are bastards even when they try to be good", depending on how cynical you felt like being that day.
  • In Hazbin Hotel, without a loving God to rebel against the Hell-born demons are portrayed rather sympathetically while the Spin-Off Helluva Boss depicts Earth as a World of Jerkass almost as bad as Hell. Out of all the Circles of Hell, the Pride Ring where Lucifer resides and human souls are sent to is the most dangerous and chaotic with the Devil himself firmly believing Humans Are Bastards as a result. Although it's Zig-Zagged as it's established he has tunnel vision as a result of being solely exposed to the absolute worst of humanity, while his All-Loving Hero daughter Charlie believes Humans Are Flawed. Furthermore, not all the people who end up in Hell were monsters in life but the horribly toxic environment led to many of them becoming even worse.
  • The third episode of Justice League both provides an example and subverts this trope in a matter of seconds. Upon witnessing rioting and looting, Wonder Woman comments that perhaps her mother was right about humanity being savages with J'onn defending their actions as born from fear rather than malice. A moment later, Green Lantern is shown helping a couple of burly, typically biker-type individuals rescue two children from underneath some debris.
  • Martin Mystery: In "Shriek from Beyond", Diana accuses Rolf of being the real monster instead of the siren who's been terrorizing the town after hearing why she's attacking: When he was younger, Rolf fell in love with the siren, but discarded her after growing bored. When he heard her vow for vengeance, Rolf trapped her in a block of ice to avoid her wrath. After spending 50 years imprisoned, she escaped and began attacking the town looking for her former love.
  • Men in Black: The Series: In a show where MIB faces hundreds of extraterrestrial threats, their biggest one is a human. More specifically, one of their former agents Alpha. His start of darkness began when he found a device that can meld beings together. After betraying K, he spends the next twenty years travelling the galaxy, removing body parts from aliens to graft them to his body. The biggest threat comes from the fact that he was one of the founders of MIB, so he has the biggest insight on how they operate. Alpha's corruption essentially justifies why MIB should just keep the Masquerade as well as labelling some technology forbidden, as humans can quickly exploit aliens and their technology.
  • The Owl House:
    • It's implied that Luz Noceda believes a downplayed version of the trope. While Luz doesn't exactly hate humans, she has a very low opinion about her own kind (except for her own family) due to years of social isolation and pressure from society's expectations, to the point she would rather get along with witches and demons from a Death World who at least accept her for who she is, and the idea of interacting with another random human would literally freak her out out of social anxiety.
    • Played straight with Philip Wittebane, a.k.a. Emperor Belos, a delusional Witch Hunter from the 1600s, who wants to commit mass witch genocide out of Fantastic Racism, and even killed his own brother for daring to engage with a hot witch girl.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): The one-shot villain Dick Hardly, in spades. A mere human manages to be the most evil character on the show. He wasn't born to be a monster like HIM nor is a Tragic Villain like Mojo Jojo and other one-shot villains. However, what he lacks superpowers he makes up for in cruelty and malice.
  • Primal (2019): While most of the first season has Spear and Fang battle Prehistoric Monsters and savage fantasy beasts, season 2 introduces human antagonists who manage to outstrip the other villains in evilness by virtue of motivation — the various human antagonists commit their atrocities out of Greed, Pride, or other human reasons, while the more bestial antagonists were motivated by instincts and the need to survive.
  • Samurai Jack: Back in the first 4 seasons, the major threats in Samurai Jack were the demon Aku and his armies of robots and demonic minions. However, in the final season, a few humans stand out by being just as cruel and twisted as Aku (and that's saying a lot!). As stated, these humans are not more twisted than Aku, so it's more like "humans are real monsters, but supernatural entities (or at least Aku) can be monsters too.".
    • The High Priestess leading the Daughters of Aku is a sociopathic monster who pushes her followers into her way of thinking, and if they refuse to accept her beliefs or fall in battle, she brands them as weak and leaves them to die.
    • The Dominator is an actual human antagonist doing dark things to the innocent civilians. He abducted innocent alien children to use as a power source and weapons, seeing them as nothing more than tools to an end.
  • Played for Laughs in Smiling Friends when a bewildered demon is beaten to death, eviscerated, and eaten by angry humans after being Mistaken for Racist.
  • South Park: In the episode "Pinewood Derby", an alien named Kevern Zaksor decides to have Earth cut off from the rest of the universe because the humans living there are too stupid and dangerous to join the intergalactic community and be part of the greater universe.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: The fishermen in the episode "Hooky" are feared and hated by Mr. Krabs, who describes them to SpongeBob as deceitful predators who use bait on hooks to lure their victim before cooking and eating them, and that's if they're feeling merciful. At worst, they send them to gift shops or stuff them into tuna cans. His fears aren't baseless though, since it's heavily implied that one of the fish they caught offscreen was a child.
  • In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Mina Loveberry (and the anti-Monster racism she represents) acts as the final Big Bad of the series, soon after The Reveal that Mewmans descend from Earth humans altered by Mewni's magic.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): In a universe filled by psychotic mutants and killer aliens like the Kraang, the Shredder stands out as one of the most monstrous. He's perfectly willing to support the Kraang's invasion of Earth and even allow the Triceratons to destroy the planet outright, as long as doing so gives him a shot at revenge on Splinter.
  • The villains of Terrahawks justified their plans of conquest by saying that the humans opposing them had a bloody history full of things a lot worse than what they were doing.
  • Ever notice that most of the antagonists on Tiny Toon Adventures are humans? Mostly Montana Max and Elmyra Duff but the only sole exception to this is Mary Melody, in fact there is a better owner for Furrball than Elmyra was.
  • One Tom and Jerry short has Tom waiting in line to get into Heaven, as a "conductor" lets recently deceased cats onto the train if they were good. At one point he calls out several names, and we cut to see a dripping wet sack, which opens up as several kittens scamper out. The conductor sadly shakes his head and mutters "Some people..."
  • In The Dragon Prince, humans are portrayed as a race that at first seemed defenseless and at the mercy of elves and dragons due to their lack of magic, then is revealed that humans are the cause of many calamities because of their will to destroy and exploit anything they come across to use dark magic, as humans were willing to betray the unicorns that helped them with primal stones, invade and destroy the land of Xadia and kill their prince Azymondias. There were a few humans willing to help Xadia out of genuine kindness


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Rousseau Was Wrong


"It turns out it's man."

Played for laughs in The Scary Door segment that plays over the credits, where a scientist combines the DNA of the world's most evil animals, resulting in a naked guy who walks out of the test chamber and bluntly states "It turns out it's man." This was originally a scene from "The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz", which was cut from that episode due to time constraints.

How well does it match the trope?

4.94 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / HumansAreTheRealMonsters

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