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Humans Kill Wantonly

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"Beware the beast Man, for he is the devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport, or lust, or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him. Drive him back into his jungle lair. For he is the harbinger of death."

It's bad to exploit others. To steal, to conquer, to torture, and most often when this comes up, to kill. But what makes it especially bad? Killing because you're human. Only humans, you see, are greedy, or jealous, or kill because they revel in someone else's suffering, while a monster who eats you, well, just has to eat. It's just dinner. Or it's just conquest, or whatever — not like those nasty humans.

This can also apply to assassins, who may be human, but still don't kill out of rage, greed, or insanity like all the rest of us human killers do.

At times the same kind of motive can count either way depending on how it's presented. It's better to kill for money — after all, it's Nothing Personal, assassination is just a job and hey, everyone needs to eat; it's not like you're killing someone out of jealousy. Yet it's also worse to kill for money — Aliens kill instinctively, but only human beings kill each other for cold cash.

Often used to imply that Humans Are Bastards and/or Humans Are the Real Monsters. Also often a reason you Can't Argue with Elves. See also Ape Shall Never Kill Ape where the monsters are better because they don't kill even if they do have human motives.

If it is only claimed that the humans are just as bad (rather than worse), because both the humans and nonhumans kill wantonly, that is not this trope but may fall under "Not So Different" Remark.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Code:Breaker:
    • The Angels believe this about (non-powered) humans, and made a game where the students of the school agree or disagree to having serial killers murdered on live video. Despite so far all of them saying yes, it is subverted by the fact A. All the kids believe this to just be a joke, and B. the fact that these are very evil people that will be executed, so it is not like they are agreeing for some random innocent civilian to be killed. The Angels themselves seem to fit the bill better, as when they're introduced, they play a game called "Who can kill the least amount of people".
    • The Re:Codes as well; when they're introduced, they joyously play Rock–Paper–Scissors to determine who gets to kill everyone in a part of a town for literally no reason.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ripley's famous quote from Aliens, said after Burke's attempt to have Ripley and Newt parasitized by captured facehuggers falls through, and after learning that the colony's takeover by the xenomorphs was set in motion by Burke.
    Ripley: You know, Burke, I don't know which species is worse. You don't see [the Xenomorphs] fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage.
  • Used in Grosse Pointe Blank when Martin claims that he's better than a psychopath because he kills for money (while psychopaths have no reason at all). He quickly backtracks into a That Came Out Wrong, of course.
  • In The Jungle Book (1994), Mowgli explains that animals only kill to eat or to keep from being eaten. He doesn't understand the concept of killing out of hatred or sport and gets pissed when one of the hunters tries to explain it to him.

  • Ax from Animorphs becomes disgusted with humans during Megamorphs #3 when he sees the brutal nature of human wars. He claims that though the Andalites had their own wars, they were never as pointless or sadistic as human wars were, and that Andalites never deliberately killed children or committed genocide to other Andalites (though he has admitted that the Andalites committed genocide against other aliens in the past).
  • Discworld:
    • The dragon's justification in Guards! Guards!. Dragons kill because they're supposed to, humans kill for a variety of flimsy reasons, or sometimes just for the hell of it.
      Dragon: We never tortured and killed each other and called it morality.
    • In Pyramids, the Assassin's Guild says that killing for money is the only sincere reason to kill, unlike killing "for honor" or "for love". Since they value life, they only kill for a lot of money. They also only kill people capable of defending themselves (skilled fighters or those rich enough to hire their own assassins) and have a list of rules of how a person can be killed, such as not killing bystanders.note 
  • The wolves in Kona's Song are horrified to learn that humans kill just for fun.
  • In The Underland Chronicles, the giant, intelligent rats are called "Gnawers", bats are "Flyers", mice are "Nibblers", etc. Humans are "Killers", a moniker they picked up after they nearly drove a population of moles to extinction in order to take their land. Not that anyone would call them that to their faces, of course.
  • In Worldwar, the Race, who has just invaded the Earth and killed lots of people is shocked to see that humans not only kill each other, but mistreat their prisoners and like to cause suffering. The Race is shown to be applying plenty of double standards to humans. They consider human religious beliefs to be primitive and ridiculous, but don't try to say anything bad about their emperors, whom they revere as gods (of course, this can be said about most religious people). They claim that humans are reckless in detonating nukes to try to stop the Race invasion, after nuking Berlin and Washington for no good reason and then retaliating to humans using nukes with their own nukes. And along the lines of mistreating prisoners, they also captured two humans and forced them to have sex with each other, simply because they were fascinated by the concept of an intelligent species that didn't go into heat at specific times of the year.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Touched on a little in Battlestar Galactica (2003). Six claims that murder is humanity's one true art. They also mention that Cylons don't torture or try to inflict suffering when they kill. It turns out that she's completely full of shit, but in her defense, she didn't know it at the time.
  • One young serial killer in Criminal Minds studies other serial killers and copies their MO; killing is natural to him, like eating and sleeping. He even comments on it to Rossi, saying that he wonders why all people don't feel this way, and asks if Rossi will be able to tell him why he is this way.
  • Averted in the Doctor Who episode "A Christmas Carol". Kazran states that he wanted to see a fish, not kill one. The Doctor points out that the shark was trying to eat Kazran, getting the response, "He was hungry."
  • While wanton killing isn't really unusual for the various alien species of Farscape, it is unusual for a race to so intently focus on killing off other members of their own species. In contrast to the standard Humans Advance Swiftly characteristic, D'Argo notes all of the infighting on Earth as the reason why humans haven't advanced further technologically.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "A Taste of Armageddon", this trope is the rationale for the insane computer war two worlds are fighting. To oppose that, Kirk has to tell them that they of course are capable of self-control like any rational being — and that when the Federation goes to war, they do it for real, not just with a rule-bound computer game, so the two planets had better not make them mad.
    Anan: There can be no peace. Don't you see? We've admitted it to ourselves. We're a killer species. It's instinctive. It's the same with you. Your General Order 24.
    Kirk: All right. It's instinctive. But the instinct can be fought. We're human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands, but we can stop it. We can admit that we're killers, but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes. Knowing that we won't kill... today.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • The Professor's opening monologue in It Came from the Desert (1992) contrasts us with ants, shortly before the town is overrun by giant mutant ants:
    Professor: Ants, Buzz. They build cities, wage wars, take slaves to work their underground farms. Some can even fly hundreds of feet into the sky and travel across vast oceans. But they never kill for sport. That is solely the domain of Homo Sapiens.



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Alternative Title(s): Humans Kill Because They Are Humans, Humanity Kills Wantonly


Beware the Beast Man

The Sacred Scrolls declare the nature of the most dangerous beast: man.

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Main / HumansAreTheRealMonsters

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