Sarah: "It", John. Not "him", "it".
As You Know, in the English language, pronouns are divided into "he" or "she" depending on the gender of the person you're talking about. Referring to someone as "it" is incredibly rude, as the pronoun is almost entirely used for inanimate objects or wild animalsnote (often in the latter case even if the animal's sex is known, as it smacks of anthropomorphism). Calling someone "it" is therefore tantamount to denying he or she is a real person. (Well, much of the time. "Who is it?"/"It's George" is standard English, although technically "Who are you?"/"I'm George" would be more correct.)
This trope is when a character is referred to as "it" in fiction. Perhaps the person who is referring to the character is a fantastic racist. Otherwise it may refer to an Eldritch Abomination, which indicates that the being is too inhuman to empathize with, despite its intelligence. Perhaps the person in question is of undetermined gender or even just doesn't have one. The worst victims of this trope are probably Artificial Humans and Ridiculously Human Robots. Also used to demonstrate a character's prejudice against a transgender character; sadly, this is Truth in Television as well.
"One" is sometimes used (as in "One does not simply walk into Mordor") but isn't universal across the Anglosphere; is often considered in British English to be extremely archaic, upper-class and pretentious; and can be awkward when the speaker is referring to a specific person, especially if that person is standing right there.
- Invoked in High School Of The Dead. The protagonists intentionally called the zombies "them" to help accept they're not living people anymore.
- In Kaze no Stigma, there's a girl who was created as a replacement for a woman who was supposed to be sacrificed to an evil spirit (so she's supposed to be sacrificed in her stead). She's generally mistreated and dehumanized, including referring to her as 'it'.
- Zai Vessalius to his son Oz in Pandora Hearts, cementing his status as a worst father of the year. And then it was revealed that Oz is neither his son nor human.
- In Shakugan no Shana, several characters refer to Torches and Mistes (sentient constructs used to replace Ret Gone people, with all their memories and personality, think "ghost") as "it".
- In the English dub of Soul Eater, Medusa refers to Crona as either "it" or "my child", while everyone else either uses "he" for convenience or just refers to Crona by name, and in the original Japanese Crona was just referred to with an ambiguously gendered pronoun. Also counts as a Woolseyism since Medusa's use of "it" ties into how she treats Crona.
- Cheza from Wolf's Rain is a strange case, as she refers to herself as an "it", due to being an Artificial Human. Everyone else uses female pronouns for her.
- Fruits Basket:
- When Ren argues against Akito (her own child) becoming the head of the family, she persistently refers to Akito as "that". Earlier, she always refers to Akito as "the baby", while her husband calls Akito by name. Possibly justified, since Akito is a girl masquerading as a boy, but Ren obviously doesn't mind pointing it out and/or dehumanizing her child, either.
- Kyo's abusive father hated him to the point that he called him an "it."
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, during her life before Mahora, the people using Asuna for over a century as a weapon and defense system always referred to her as an 'it', seeing her only as a weapon.
- While it's not brought up often, the Naruto villains Orochimaru and Kabuto always referred to Yamato as "the experiment" or "one of Orochimaru's experiments", the reason mainly being that Yamato had been kidnapped by Orochimaru as an infant and experimented on just before Orochimaru left the village.
- In Hunter × Hunter, the terrifyingly powerful wish-granting entity that lives inside Killua's little sister, Alluka, is referred to only as "Nanika", "Something". Some scanlators have chosen to idiomatically translate this as "It", since it has about the same connotation.
- Dragon Ball Z: The Viz translation of the original manga has the Z Fighters refer to Cell as an "it," whereas the anime has them use masculine pronouns throughout.
- Averted completely in Pokémon, where neutral pronouns are always used for Pokémon, unless gender is important for the plot. Nobody seems to mind at all. This can get confusing with Pokemon whose genders are either confirmed (Ash's Pikachu, for example, who is male) or established in canon as having only one option.
- Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet has an interesting example: Chamber, a Machine Caliber, has a male voice and is referred to as male by the human characters. However, later we meet another Machine Caliber, Striker, who has a female voice; while Ledo refers to Striker as "her," Chamber opts for "it." Technically more accurate, but Striker is a villain...
- In Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Mogamett allows Titus to adopt a Muggle child named Marga...and then kicks another Muggle child who was annoying him before commenting how he doesn't understand why Titus wanted one, but he's "glad that he likes it." This is what clues Aladdin in that Mogamett basically sees non-magicians as animals, and Marga as more of a pet than a person.
- In Massugu ni Ikou, Mametarou and Hanako's owners take offense when they hear a dog being referred to as "it" instead of "he", feeling that it signifies his owner doesn't care about him.
- In a New 52 story, Superman gets captured by the government and subjected to torture and experimentation. The scientists and Lex Luthor refer to him as "it."
- Later, Helspont tries to break Superman's spirit by giving him a nightmare where the government is hunting him down. The soldiers yell stuff like, "There it is! Shoot it!"
- Red Daughter of Krypton: Shay alternates between using "her" and "it" to talk about Blaze because she doesn't know how to refer to other-dimensional demons.
Soldier: "Her"...? I thought we were hunting for an "it".
Shay: She looks female, but who really knows if gender even applies to a demon from another dimension?
- Many Happy Returns: Super-villain Xenon will only refer to the Supergirl who defeated him as "She," with every other woman to wear the shield he refers to as "It."
- Red Daughter of Krypton: Shay alternates between using "her" and "it" to talk about Blaze because she doesn't know how to refer to other-dimensional demons.
- In Marvel Comics, robots and androids often refer to themselves as "this unit". If they are intelligent and become independent of their original programming, they may switch to "I".
- In Avengers Disassembled, when She-Hulk kills (so to speak), the Vision (one of the aforementioned sentient androids — or synthoid, if you want to be technical), in her Scarlet Witch-induced anger, she refers to him as "it".
- Some particularly virulent anti-mutant racists in the X-Men comics have referred to mutants as "it"s. X-23 suffers triply from this. Not only is she a mutant, but the Facility views her as nothing more than a weapon and their property, so frequently refers to her as "it." And then there's the fact that she's Wolverine's Opposite-Sex Clone, so is often derogatorily called "it" for that reason, as well.
- Pastor Sunday in Flesh refers to his mother as "heit" due to his issues.
- In the Shadow of Gods, a Mass Effect/Halo crossover: In the first chapter, Shepard thinks for a moment about how she used to correct herself when referring to EDI as "she". She deduces that Master Chief considers Cortana to be a person since he refers to her as "she" and not it.
- Inverted then subverted in Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover where Legion becomes a single entity—Shepard refers to the character as "he" (to avoid this trope) but is promptly rebutted that "it" is actually what the other character prefers.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series makes a joke about objectification this way. The boys ignore what Mai Valentine actually has to say even going as far as referring to her as "it".
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
- Several times when someone mentions Tsukune's inner ghoul in Acts II and III, they refer to him as an "it."
- In Act V, Jenner Rythmore is so disdainful and distrustful of monsters that he calls them "things" on more than one occasion.
- In Act VI chapter 49, while punishing Akua and Kahlua for not only failing to kill Talon, but letting him set foot in the Shuzen home, Issa outright refers to him as an "abomination" and an "it."
- What About Witch Queen? uses it on a ship of all things - prince Ferdinand refers to his Northern Wind as "she" and admiral Hauser says "it", apparently to infuriate and show his contempt for Ferdinand.
- In Broken Legends, Kiera insistently calls the transformed Maxie 'it' instead of 'him', despite being repeatedly called out on it. Archie explictedly points out the double standard — his body got warped as well, yet she doesn't dehumanize him.
- In Emergence, When Weiss Schnee gets glomped by a little girl who thinks she's Queen Elsa, she screams, "Get it off me!" The narration even points this out.
- Inverted in the Breath of Fire II novelization War of the Demons. Spar insists on being addressed as "it," pointing out that gendered pronouns would be as offensive to it as "it" would be to races with genders.
- In Adorable Murderbeasts, Trainer Red refers to Zapdos with "It". Not to demean it, or out of gender confusion, but because unlike his other Pokemon, Zapdos is more like a living force of nature, and tends to think like one.
- In Along Came a Spider the cultists of Spider Goddess Anasi, particularly her Prophet, use "it" to psych out and demean our heroes. Of course, one of those heroes is the Doctor, so it doesn't work so well.
- Although it is somewhat uncommon, it isn't unheard of for Bucky Barnes in Captain America: The Winter Soldier fanfiction to be referred to (when known as the Asset) as an 'it', as an indication of his lack of autonomy and identity.
- Inverted in Star Wars Episode I: The Familiar of Zero whenever someone refers to Calista's droid Extwo as "he". She corrects them that they should refer to Extwo as "it" because it hasn't decided on a gender yet; she could program it to have one but feels it better for Extwo to develop on its own.
- Inverted in Never Use Shadow Clones to do Your Paperwork where Kurama (and presumably the other Biju) is quite insistent on being an it. When Naruto tries to refer to Kyuubi as "he", it remarks that it's sentient mass of energy and thus lacks a gender.
- In the Death Note fanfic Second Chances, L calls Rae "it" for a similar reason that he calls his team members by letters.
- In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, the Sensational Sisters often refer to Misty as "it", showing how little they care for her.
- In the Splatoon fanfic First Aid Kits and Deep Secrets, the protagonist May refers to octarians as "it" because she sees them as "other". It isn't until the octoling she's kept in her house for a few weeks tells her that she's named "Lacey" that May finally realize that she's female.
- In Fate Parallel Fantasia, Zouken Matou, who is a major jerkass who barely sees anyone as having worth, refers to all the Servants as "It".
- A Tactician's Testimony: Lyn has no remorse for killing bandits in cold blood, openly telling Katri that "bandits aren't people." While somewhat justified, since Lyn's family and tribe were slaughtered by bandits, her attitude nonetheless unnerves Katri quite a bit.
- In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Hisashi Midoriya refers to the alien baby he and his wife Inko found as "it". She gently corrects him by referring to the baby as "him" after looking in the baby's diaper. Later on, they adopt "him" as their son, Izuku Midoriya. Izuku himself would later hear children referring to the alien whose spaceship crashed into the base of Mt. Fuji as "it".
- The Iron Giant: Hogarth chides Dean for calling the Giant "it".
- From Monsters, Inc.:
Mike: [referring to the human toddler] Sully, you're not supposed to name it. Once you name it, you start getting attached to it.
- Shrek: The first thing Lord Farquaad says upon seeing the title character is, "Ugh! It's hideous!" Later, when he sees Fiona's ogress form, he exclaims, "It's disgusting!"
- Storks: Tulip doesn't like when Junior refers to the baby they are delivering as a "package".
- Frankenstein (1931): It's important to note that Victor's famous declaration is "It's alive! Alive!" not "He's alive!"
- The Silence of the Lambs. Buffalo Bill uses this to address his victims. ("It rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again!") Discussed beforehand when Senator Martin delivers a televised plea to Buffalo Bill, repeatedly referring to her daughter by her given name "Catherine" in the hopes that he will have a harder time depersonalizing her. Given the above line, it clearly didn't have much effect, or he didn't watch the news.
- Terminator: This is the common way by the human resistance of referring to the machines.
- In The Terminator:
Kyle: That terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day also uses this in the directors cut, as seen in the quote above.
- In The Terminator:
- Blade Runner: Deckard performs the replicant-detector Voight-Kampf test on Rachel, who it confirms is one of them, which she doesn't know. After she leaves the room, Deckard turns to Tyrell, her boss and creator.
Deckard: I don't get it, Tyrell. How can it not know what it is?
- X-Men Film Series:
- In the 2007 version of I Am Legend, Anna watches Neville experiment on a captured zombie, and asks whether what he's doing will "cure her." Neville responds "Actually, it will probably kill it," with the second "it" slightly emphasized.
- A scene in August Underground's Penance has the serial killer couple break into a suburban home around Christmas. The woman slowly chokes the life out of a little girl as her boyfriend screams "Kill it! Kill it!"
- In Alien: Resurrection, General Perez and the doctors are discussing the development of the Ripley 8 clone, referring to her as "it".
- Halloween: Dr. Samuel Loomis, as per his not-unjustified belief that Michael Myers is evil incarnate, refers to him as an "it" on more than one occasion.
Dr. Loomis: Don't underestimate it.
Nurse: Don't you think we should refer to 'it' as 'him'?
Dr. Loomis: If you say so.
- In Bicentennial Man, Andrew's manufacturer insists on referring to Andrew as "it" despite the fact that he shows things such as sentience, emotions, and creativity, and gets annoyed when Mr. Martin uses "he" instead, saying that is a common mistake to make since Andrew is built to resemble a human. One of the major points in the film is when Andrew starts referring to himself as "I" instead of "this one", as he'd been programmed to.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Will Turner hates pirates. When he gets in a sword-fight with Jack Sparrow, he says he trains with swords every day, "So that when I meet a pirate, I can kill it!"
- Discussed in I, Robot when Sonny thanks Detective Spooner for calling him "some'one', not some'thing'".
- Colossus: The Forbin Project. The CIA chief refers to the Master Computer as "he" which the President corrects to "it" in classic Tempting Fate style. "Don't anthropomorphize it — the next step is deification."
- Shoot 'em Up. The Hooker with a Heart of Gold tells off the Anti-Hero for calling the baby he's been protecting this. He eventually decides to call the baby Oliver instead.
- In the film of Twilight Breaking Dawn part 1, Edward refers to Bella's pregnancy as "it" (among other things).
- The characters in Splice go back and forth on this when it comes to Dren, the genetically engineered creature they created. At one point Elsa insists on calling Dren "her" instead of "it" but is later shown switching back to "it" after (correctly) realizing she's become too emotionally attached to a dangerous creature.
- Ted, a teddy bear brought to life, angrily insists he's a "he" instead of an "it". Interestingly he still says he "belongs" to John Bennett.
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015). Before he finds out Illya Kuryakin's name, Napoleon Solo uses this trope in reference to the former's Implacable Man characteristics.
Solo: What was waiting for me was barely human. You should have seen it run. It tore the back off my car.
- In The Last Witch Hunter, 36th Dolan expresses his annoyance with Axe and Cross using this trope. He says that they don't think of Kaulder as a person, but as a weapon.
- The Jungle Book (2016), it is inverted due to majority of the characters being animals but when Akela tells Shere Khan that Mowgli is part of the wolf pack, Shere Khan sarcastically retorts, " Mowgli?! They've given it a name ..."
- In Morgan, it's easy to tell who is and isn't sympathetic to Morgan based on whether or not they refer to her as "she" or "it."
- In Rogue One, Krennic calls for his Stormtroopers to find Galen Erso's hidden daughter Jyn by telling them to "find it", and a later scene establishes that he knew damn well the child was a girl.
- Jurassic World: Owen Grady may be a Friend to All Living Things, but even he's unable to fully like the Indominus Rex. So much so that when the I. Rex slaughters a whole herd of Apatosaurus just For the Evulz, he stops referring to her as a "her" altogether and more as an "it".
- From Hellboy, when John encounters Abe and his Psychic Powers.
John: How did it—
Professor Broom: He. [chuckles at John's confusion] Not "it." He.
- A Child Called "It" is this trope applied to an autobiographic story of a mother abusing her son.
- IT falls in to the "too inhuman" variety in A Wrinkle in Time. It's a giant evil brain.
- Stephen King wrote It, a firm example of the too inhuman variant. However, Pennywise does give "his" "human" name as "Bob", and It is also referred to in-universe as "some guy [sic] running around in a clown suit."
- In Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn, the eugenically-enhanced Sten Devoure refers to Lucky's rather short and ugly sidekick Bigman as "that thing" and "it." The insult becomes dangerous when he tells a group of Three-Laws Compliant robots (who are unfamiliar with human variation outside the limited norms of Devoure's world) that Bigman is not human, and orders them to "break it."
- Inverted in the Young Wizards: the Powers That Be, including the Lone Power are commonly referred to as "It" (with a capital "I"). This is considered respectful, akin to the capitalized "He" in The Bible; ironically, this respect is most often directed at the Lone Power simply becaues It shows up more often than any of the other powers.
- Subverted in Bruce Coville's Rod Albright Alien Adventures: Tar Gibbons is an alien who is neither male nor female, so tells Rod to use "it." Tar Gibbons apparently finds this less insulting than "he" or "she." (Funnily enough, another alien is horrified that Rod refers to his younger siblings as "Thing One and Thing Two," not getting the literary reference.)
- Other Coville books sometimes play with this idea, such as his My Teacher Is an Alien series.
- Played With in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga, where "it" is considered the polite way to address Betan hermaphrodites. Bel Thorne, the hermaphrodite most central to the series, has a canned rant about how "it" is not considered to be dehumanizing... but also quite enjoys using its "it" status to make less tolerant acquaintances uncomfortable. The respectful "It" is kind of a quirk of Betan culture. Members of other, less-widely-known genderless minorities may still not take it very kindly. Cetagandan ba (which is both the name of the caste, and its proper pronoun), for example, aren't very likely to take offense at anything, but their Haut creators/employers/cousins will take offense on their behalf.
- In Barry Longyear's novella Enemy Mine, the Drac are both male and female at the same time. The hero continually refers to his Drac antagonist-turned-friend as "it", rather than as he or she.
- When diagnosed sociopath John Cleaver of I Am Not a Serial Killer begins to do this, it's a sign that he's getting excited and losing control. He even has a My God, What Have I Done? moment when he refers to his crush as 'it'.
- Used in the second sense of the trope for The Exalted in the Night Lords series of Warhammer 40,000. Having been possessed for a few thousand years, the former Space Marine has lost most of its humanity to the daemon of Tzeentch inside of it.note
- In The Angel Experiment, Angel is very upset when the scientists experimenting on her continue to refer to her as "it."
- Inverted in Foundation and Earth, where the genetically engineered hermaphroditic Solarians insist on being called "it" — since, after all, they are not half humans like us, but complete, perfect beings. When the characters have rescued a Solarian child, who will live in a human society instead of among the Solarians, they feel more comfortable with a normal gendered pronoun. They call the child "her," partly on the grounds that she is capable of giving birth.
- "It" is used by Death Eaters in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to refer to muggle-borns who have had their wands taken away for having "stolen magic". When Harry, Ron and Hermione visit Diagon Alley in disguise, Ron is forced to stun one. The Death Eater Travers asks Hermione (disguised as the Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange) "How did it offend you?" and Hermione, playing her character, replies "It does not matter. It will not do so again."
- E. Nesbit's Five Children and It. The eponymous "it" is the Psammead, or wish-granting sand-fairy.
- The Laurie J. Marks' Children of Triad novels are an interesting case; in them, certain members of the Walker community refer to the Aeyries as "it", due to their hermaphroditism. Most notable of these is the Walker Teksan, the Big Bad of the first book. However, it is mentioned somewhere in the books that the Aeyries wouldn't mind it if the Walkers weren't deliberately using the pronoun because they believe it is insulting. The H'ldat (the Aeyries' language) pronoun, "id/idre", simply refers to something without gender — in essence, it means the exact same thing as the word "it"; the usage itself is what makes the word "it" dehumanizing.
- Averted by the Mrdini in the Talents series. They are a genderless species, and as such insist on being referred to as "it" in human language.
- In Neverwhere, the angel Islington, being naturally sexless, is referred to consistently as "it", though some characters make an effort at "he". This serves to foreshadow certain inhuman aspects of its morality.
- In The Dresden Files, Michael emphatically refers to the ancient vampire Mavra as "it". She then refers to herself that way to show how unintimidated she is.
- Averted in the Sector General books by James White, set on a multispecies space-station hospital chock-a-block with sentient beings of many, many origins. Only characters of the same species as the current point-of-view character are referred to with gendered pronouns in the narration, and everybody else is referred to as "it". This is also done by all the medical staff and station personnel in dialogue. This usage is intended to avoid causing offense or confusion by using incorrect pronouns to refer to aliens who may have more (or less, or just Different) genders than human-style male/female. It's specifically noted that the only time gendered pronouns of any sort are used in conversation between hospital staffers is when an entity's gender is relevant, such as a patient who is hospitalized for a dysfunction of the reproductive system.
- The Chronicles of Narnia uses a similar convention. The narration refers to talking animals as "it" when their personal names aren't in use or known. ("Mr. Beaver" is "he" but "the beaver" is "it.") Humans use the same rule. Talking animals refer to humans as "it" when their individual names aren't known.
- The Centaurians in The Pentagon War are both male and female at the same time, and are referred to as "it." While this may be dehumanizing, the Centaurians aren't human to begin with.
- Zig-zagged in Mistborn. Heroine Vin initially refers to Big Bad Ruin, a Sentient Cosmic Force, as "it". After encountering Ruin in a human manifestation where it displays several humanlike traits, she switches over to "he". Near the end of the final book, after coming into direct contact with the core of Ruin's consciousness, Vin decides that humanizing Ruin at all does him a favor he doesn't deserve, and switches over to "it" again for the remainder of the story.
- In Going Postal, when Miss Maccalariat objects to golems cleaning the ladies' restrooms, the protagonist Moist von Lipwig tries to explain that they often use honorifics like "Mister" with the golems employed at the post office because "it" seems wrong. That said, Miss Maccalariat still has issues because a "Mister" should not clean the lady's restrooms. So Moist gets around this by having the golem who would clean the bathroom as "Miss" and wear dresses. The next time we see this golem in the next Moist book the golem, now called Gladys, is a unique entity.
- Discussed briefly in the Star Trek book The Lives of Dax, when referring to a Trill symbiont as "it" leaves a character uncomfortable.
- In the Spiral Arm series, when Khembold Darling and Number Two decide that Mearana has outlived her usefulness, they switch to calling her "it".
- In Horus Heresy, when Lion hunts Curze on his flagship, he refers to Konrad in his narrative as "it", a monster to be put down. Given that Curze has sped past his Moral Event Horizon without looking back way before the story even starts, it may be a justified example.
- Despite what is said in the Real Life section, Jerom K Jerom of the Three Men in a Boat fame vehemently advised against applying this to babies in one of his short stories. While using the opposite gender pronoun (which you will invariably do) is bad enough, nothing will earn you more hatred from the parents than addressing their sweet little angel as "it". Actually, just use "sweet little angel" instead, you'll be fine.
- In Alien in a Small Town, the Jan have three genders: the female Matriarchs, the male Workers, and the sterile Warriors. It is pointed out that, while calling a Warrior "it" might make some grammatical sense in English, doing so is considered "depersonalizing," so Warriors default to male pronouns.
- The hermaphrodite Cornelius Brunner in The Final Programme is referred to in the narration as "it", but given that it apparently has the personalities of both the people who were combined to create it, "they" might've been a better choice. But it was 1965 and neither Michael Moorcock nor anyone else really had a good precedent.
- After spending some time on the verge of Heaven and seeing how small Hell is in The Great Divorce, the narrator refers to the shades from Hell as "it" rather than "he" or "she".
- Played for laughs in the denouement of Brothers of the Snake, when the planetary governor is marveling at the Iron Snakes' dreadnought, she (understandably, given she's never seen one before) refers to it as "it". After a bit of this, the dreadnought decides he's had enough and declares "IT can HEAR you."
- In The Girl from the Miracles District, when Nikita and her berserk spirit are still at war with each other, she referred to the spirit as "it", but when they begin to cooperate, she switches to "he" and gives him a nickname.
- In Maximum Ride, the kids are referred to as "it" by the scientists who created them.
- The Host: Wanda gets this trope frequently from those of the human survivors who hate her. To be fair, as far as they can tell, souls have no genders other than that of the bodies they inhabit, though it turns out Wanda is the nearest equivalent her species has to female.
- Exploited in-universe in Terra Ignota, where celebrity performance artist Sniper prefers the pronoun "it" because it's spent years creating an image of a "living doll" (including purchasable life-like replica sex dolls of any sex) and catering to the fantasies of the entire world by presenting itself as every possible gender. Sniper wants to be dehumanized so that its fans will better be able to fantasize that their Sniper-doll is the real Sniper.
- After Melena gives birth to a green baby with shark-like teeth at the start of Wicked, she initially rejects the baby. It takes a while for Melena and her husband to refer to Elphaba as "she".
- Game of Thrones: Reek is constantly referred to as a "pet" and a "creature."
- Star Trek: The Next Generation has done this several times, usually in regards to the android Commander Data.
- In the season 1 episode "Datalore", where Captain Picard at first feels inclined to refer to Data as "he", and to Data's newly-discovered twin brother Lore as "it". Data calls him out on this, and feels uncomfortable at the idea of them being referred to differently when they are both androids. Picard understands and apologizes.
- When Dr. Pulaski first sees Data at the helm, she balks at the captain: "You're letting it pilot the ship?" upon which Picard lays a verbal smackdown on her. Given the fact that Data was so popular with the fans that having a one-off character treat him like a machine quickly became shorthand for telling the audience that a character is an asshole, this scene probably was enough to doom Pulaski's character terminally.
- In "The Measure of a Man", an episode discussing Data's legal status; Commander Maddox constantly refers to Data as a possession of Starfleet and therefore an "it", until he slips into "he" after a court hearing formally rules that Data has free will and the right to choose.
- In "The Most Toys", Kivas Fajo refers to Data as "it" after kidnapping him, reinforcing his view of Data as just another item in his collection of rare objects.
- A variant occurs with Worf after his Discommendation. Duras makes a point of referring to him as "that," as in, "what is that doing here?" Which is pretty rich considering Worf voluntarily accepted discommendation to cover the treason of Duras' father, having been told that civil war would result otherwise.
- In "The Outcast", Riker rejects the pronoun "it" for referring to a member of the (genderless) J'naii species for this very reason.
- Inverted in "I, Borg". Guinan almost gets angry when she learns that the Borg drone Third of Five has been nicknamed "Hugh" by the crew.
- During the first season of Star Trek: Voyager, it was not uncommon for the Doctor to be referred to as "it", even by the regular cast.
- In "Kellerman, P.I.", a Ripped from the Headlines Homicide: Life on the Street, Det. Falsone knows that the teenage mother of a murdered baby is guilty because she refers to the child as "it" while the father calls the baby "she".
- In the episode of Red Dwarf where Kryten was first introduced, Rimmer refers to Kryten as "it". Looks like painting a portrait of Rimmer on the toilet, pouring soup on his bed, calling him "smeg for brains" and flipping him off taught him a lesson.
- In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Sarah nearly always refers to Cameron as It, or Tin Man. Derek's the same. In one episode, a Terminator trying to pass for human aroused a woman's suspicion when she referred to the woman's child as "it".
- When Peter gets thrown back into the timeline, Walter keeps referring to him as "it" and "the subject".
- In a strange example, one of David Robert Jones shapeshifters is having a seizure and when Lincoln asks what's wrong with it, Jones angrily insists that she is a her. It turns out that Jones is killing her, just to prove that he's willing to kill someone he loves and therefore imagine what he is willing to do to them.
- Comes up with human-form Replicators in the Stargate-verse. Specifically, in Stargate Atlantis, McKay and Zelenka create a Replicator to use as a weapon against the rest of the Replicators. Everyone else is a bit squicked by this since "she" is self aware. McKay, however, steadfastly insists that "it" is just a weapon. FRAN herself seems to agree with him, pointing out that his concern at sending her to her destruction is silly.
- In the Angel episode "She", male demons from a No Woman's Land refer to females as "it".
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Initiative refers to vampires as "it". Of course, vampires aren't human anyway, but everyone else uses gender-specific pronouns, and since vampires otherwise appear to be human, it would take a bit of mental training to think of one as an "it" by default.
- Battlestar Galactica:
- In Battlestar Galactica (2003), Cylon characters (even some who were generally recognized as allies by the humans) were often referred to as "it" by human characters.
- Done again in the prequel series Caprica; when Daniel Graystone meets the Digital Avatar of Zoe, he spends a good part of the episode referring to her as "it" before finally acknowledging that she is sentient.
- Subverted in the Galactica 1980 episode "The Return of Starbuck'', where Starbuck has no problem referring to Cy (the Centurion he'd repaired) as "he" and never even calls him "it".
- Horrible Histories has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it example during Marcus Licinius Crassus' song:
I called my slave to the cave to ask it
To cook a feast and lower in a basket
- Elementary has an artificial intelligence researcher murdered, and the potential A.I. (or someone using it) is considered a suspect. The A.I. is consistently referred to as "she" by the people who developed it, but Holmes insists on "it" and becomes obsessed with proving it can't pass the Turing Test... but even he slips and catches himself.
- Common among the Prolethians on Orphan Black, when referring to the clones.
- In season 1, Tomas consistently refers to the clones as "it" rather than "she" when convincing Helena to hunt down and kill them. One sign that Helena is having doubts about her mission is that she doesn't.
- Similarly, in season 2, Grace refers to Helena as "it" while her father Henrik — who believes in redeeming Helena and making her a part of his family — uses "she".
- Inverted in Person of Interest with Root who refers to the Machine, the artificial intelligence she worships, using feminine pronouns.
- Daredevil (2015): Elektra takes extreme offense in Nobu calling her "it". It's worth noting however that the Hand nonetheless treat her with reverence, indicating that to them, calling the Black Sky "it" is simply the proper form of addressing such a powerful entity.
- The Defenders (2017): This continues to be the case for Elektra, revived by the Hand and brainwashed into an assassin. As the Black Sky, she is still referred to as "it", and after encounters where Stick and Matt address her by name, Elektra regains all her suppressed memories and makes quite clear how much she hates being thought of as a weapon as she kills Alexandra:
Elektra Natchios: And my name...is Elektra Natchios.
- Played with in season 11 of Supernatural, when Sam refers to Castiel's human vessel as an "it". Dean takes offense, arguing it's not an it, it's Cas. Since the Winchesters have never interacted with Castiel outside of his vessel (because that would kill them), the vessel is how they perceive him — however, the vessel is technically separate from Castiel (and no longer houses a human soul), so Sam's designation is accurate and probably isn't meant to be disrespectful; tensions are just running high at that particular moment.
- In the Doctor Who episode "The Doctor Falls", the Harold Saxon incarnation of The Master insists that Bill, the Doctor's companion is an it, not a she, after her Unwilling Roboticisation into a cyberman.
- The introduction of Malakim angels in Steve Jackson Games In Nomine has an angel use this trope when referring to a demon. Shedim are routinely referred to as "it" even by other demons, who consider them loathsome.
- In OGRE by Steve Jackson Games, one of the bits of flavor text in the manual mentions that the eponymous giant A.I. tanks are never referred to by the traditional "she". Friendly OGREs are "he" and enemy OGREs are "it".
- In Exalted, Nara-O, god of secrets, is often referred to as "it" since even by god standards it appears to be entirely non-gendered, in keeping with its secretive nature (although it may just be a case of Ambiguous Gender, also in keeping with the secretive nature).
- The designers of Rocket Age are aware of the implications of referring to a person as an 'it', but still use 'it' as the article for the non-gendered alien species, since there isn't another article in 1938 that Earthlings would be likely to use. Of course 'It' does end up often being used by humans in a very dehumanizing way in universe.
- The Tzimisce Sascha Vykos from Vampire: The Masquerade self-invokes this to show how detached it is from humanity.
- Zig-zagged in Warhammer 40,000. The Emperor is different in personality depending on who is viewing him or speaking to him at any given moment: The Mechanicum views him as a logical and dispassionate scientist, the Custodes see him as their Master and the one in whom they place the most trust, the Primarchs view him as their father, and so on. In keeping with this, the Emperor refers to his sons by their numbers (referring to Angron as "Twelve", rather than his name.) when in the presence of Magos Arkhan Land, while explicitly calling Horus his son at the Triumph of Ullanor, while in front of eight of his brothers and fellow Primarchs; this heavily implies that his true nature is unknowable and people will view him according to their own beliefs and personalities, which aren't necessarily his own,
- This trope can appear in French, even though the French language does not have a neuter gender. In the play Becket by Jean Anouilh, when King Henry meets a smelly peasant girl he doesn't say "Elle pue" (she stinks), he says "Ça pue" (that stinks).
- Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days has Saix refer to Xion as "it". This is partially because Xion's appearance varies according to who is looking at her. While Axel and Roxas see her as a beautiful girl, Saix sees her as a faceless puppet. The manga had DiZ referring to Roxas in the same manner because Roxas is a Nobody, a being not meant to exist.
- In [PROTOTYPE], some high-ranking members of Blackwatch are very insistent about referring to ZEUS, otherwise known as Alex Mercer, as "it" instead of "he". Which turns out to be fitting, since the "Alex" you control is a sentient version of the Blacklight virus that has assumed Alex's form.
- Dragon Age:
- Inverted by Shale in Dragon Age: Origins, who is a golem and thus treated as furniture by those who don't know better, but is actually a fully sentient individual. Shale refers to everyone else as "it" on purpose, mostly for the ironic reversal and to indicate a complete lack of respect. Including the Player Character. The player character will get upgraded to "you" if you reach friendship level with Shale.
- In Dragon Age II, it's revealed that the Qunari word for outsider or foreigner is "bas", which means "thing". If you're not a follower of the Qun, you are not even a person. Or if you're a mage, since their word/name for a mage is "Saarebas", meaning "dangerous thing". This is one of the reasons the Qun is not popular with some players.
- Dragon Age: Inquisition has Cole, is a Fade spirit who somehow took human form without possessing anyone. Vivienne (a Circle Mage trained to mistrust spirits) and Sera (generally leery of magic) make a point of calling him "it". Cole is rather pleased when Sera eventually slips up and says 'him'.
- Averted in the case of Solas; he repeatedly calls a particular spirit 'it' while making it clear he considers the spirit very much a person and a dear friend. He just doesn't believe in assigning it a gender. Interestingly enough, Solas refers to Cole as 'he.'
- Possibly averted by Pokémon. Most people refer to the Mons as "it", even though they had genders since Pokémon Gold and Silver, and gender differences as of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl.
- Isaea Roenall in Baldur's Gate 2 calls the main character an "it" if you interject during one of his tirades in Nalia's sidequest, to underline his elitist attitude.
- In Batman: Arkham Asylum, if enough armed henchmen are knocked out, the remaining thugs will call Batman "It".
- Happens in a way in Persona 3 Portable where Aigis corrects Yukari referring to her as a girl because, well, she's a robot. However this is used to show how unlike a human she is. At first, at least. Later on, she starts to refer to herself as a "she".
- Mass Effect
- In Mass Effect 2, Joker consistently refers to EDI as "It", seeing as not only is he wary of an illegal AI but he also doesn't like anyone/anything interfering with his piloting. After the Collector attack where Joker risks his life to give EDI full control of the ship leading her to save the day, he starts referring to her as "she".
- In Mass Effect 3, in video logs, the Illusive Man gets to Kick the Dog by always referring to EDI as "it", even correcting technicians who call her "she". Oddly, in Mass Effect 2 he refers to EDI as a 'she' just like everyone else. Apparently, he really was just being a jerk.
- In 3, Shala'Raan, while less hateful toward the geth than Han'Gerrel or Daro'Xen, insists on referring to Legion as "it" when Shepard uses "he".
- Inverted with the hanar, who refer to themselves in public as "it" or "this one". They consider it extremely rude to use first-person pronouns around people who aren't relatives or extremely close friends. Plus, it's not even known if hanar have genders or gender identity the way most species do.
- Mass Effect: Andromeda: The kett refer to all other species in this manner, always calling them "lower lifeforms" or "specimens". They view any non-kett as little better than animals.
- Likewise, the Angara initially do this as well when first meeting members of the Milky Way, though this is more due to suspicion and unfamiliarity with Milky Way species. One male Angara even has to be chided for staring at a female Ryder immediately after being told that Ryder is a "she," not an "it." Some of the more xenophobic Angara, namely the Roekaar, continue to use "it" when referring to Milky Way species, which only serves to show similar they are to the Kett they're at war with.
- Team Fortress 2
- The Heavy refers to the Pyro as an "it" in the long-awaited "Meet the Pyro" video.
Heavy Weapons Guy: I fear no man. But that... thing. It scares me.
- In the same video, the Scout averts this — he refers to the Pyro with both gender pronouns in the same sentence, though in subtitles only, as the actual voice line doesn't. (Valve's official policy on the Pyro's gender/real identity is that at this point, not answering the question is far more entertaining and interesting than any answer they could ever create.)
The Scout: H-He's not here, is she?
- The Heavy refers to the Pyro as an "it" in the long-awaited "Meet the Pyro" video.
- Fallen London
- The Masters of the Bazaar are generally called "it", despite going by "Mr.", although they do get called "he" sometimes. This is because nobody even knows what they are other then "not human".
- This doesn't apply to gender-neutral player characters, though, for whom the narrative system will twist itself into knots to call you several variants of "person of indistinct gender" instead of "it". Most of the references being in second-person helps.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, Trudy (the bartender in Goodsprings) repeatedly refers to Victor (the robot with a cowboy persona) as an "it", even when the player calls him "he". She's not a bad person, she just doesn't trust Victor.
- In the Dawnguard expansion for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Isran, the leader of the Dawnguard (a group of vampire hunters), is incredibly rude to the vampire Serana when she tries to help, and refers to her as "it" when speaking to you.
- In Tales of Graces, Emeraude constantly refers to Sophie as Protos Heis and never uses "she", always "it". This is because she sees Sophie as only a humanoid weapon and not as an actual person, unlike everyone else; which serves as a subtle cue to her true nature.
- Inverted the earlier Tales Series game Tales of Vesperia teen researcher Rita Mordio who prefers to spend her time with the Magitek Blastia ascribes them pronouns as she sees them as people.
- Beyond: Two Souls: The protagonist Jodie's verbally abusive father has absolutely no qualms with referring to Jodie as an "it" and a demon. While arguing with Jodie's mother, no less.
- In Our Darker Purpose, the evil Administrators of the Edgewood Home for Lost Children refer to Cordy as an "it", as in, "we could just kill it now. No one would notice."
- In God of War III, the gods, except for Hephaestus, call Pandora "it", because she is an Artificial Human Hephaestus created. Kratos sees her as a surrogate daughter and gets pissed that Zeus won't quit doing this.
- Bestovius, in Super Paper Mario, refers to Mario as an "it," with emphasis on the pronoun. It's unclear if he is mocking Mario or if he genuinely thinks this way with a speech quirk.
- Rule of Rose uses this trope to establish Wendy's hatred of Brown. When she refers to him at all, it's only as 'it' or 'that filthy dog/that thing'. She only uses Brown's name once: while apologizing to Jennifer for killing him. And all the other children. Except on that occasion, she is exactly as cruel as the trope connotes.
- Fallout 4 uses this with many characters when they talk about Synths, but one particular instance stands out when Arthur Maxson refers to Paladin Danse as "it" even after knowing them for years, something Danse is visibly hurt by.
- Two companions (MacReady and Cait) react negatively to Danse being revealed to be a synth. But while MacReady still calls him a "him", saying if you kill Danse, "Keeping him around was too dangerous", Cait will refer to him as an it, even saying if you kill Danse, "Good. Thought that thing would never shut up."
- Calamity Ganon in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is mainly referred to as "it" by various characters rather than "him" as in previous Zelda games. This has a sinister justification in-universe: by this point in the timeline, Ganon has turned into an Eldritch Abomination no longer exhibiting anything recognizably human or individual, so the "it" indicates that the people of Hyrule view Ganon as an incorporeal force of evil rather than a person. However, several characters (including the game's Princess Zelda) still refer to Calamity Ganon with masculine pronouns, indicating that "it" and "him" are interchangeable.
- This is used by one of Tachyon's propaganda machines to refer to lombaxes in Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. Tachyon hates lombaxes to genocidal levels, and uses such machines to demonize them and insure that if Ratchet is nearby, everyone will drop what they're doing to kill him.
- Metal Gear:
- Gets referenced in Schlock Mercenary, after Ennesby (a viral vannilla-helix A.I.) gets the Tough's ship blown up during the Battle for the Core. Tagon is understandably annoyed, and starts referring to Ennesby by "it" for a while, most noticeably in one strip:
Ennesby: Petey, help! He's demoted me to an "it"!
- A gate-guard in The Prime of Ambition referred to Thanatos this way (the next page shows that he knows what this meant).
- In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures, Dan is subjected to this.
- An interesting variation is in Digger, where Ed refers to himself as it because he was cast out of the tribe and his ""name was eaten". The main character calls him 'he' because she can't not think of him as a person.
- In Freefall, the Mayor and Mr. Kornada (as seen in the page image) call Florence 'it'.
- O Human Star
Al: Why the hell is that thing a girl, Brendan?
Brendan: You can't call them things, Al, they have rights under state law now.
- In Our Little Adventure, Julie's group kept referring to Joyelle the Erinyes (a devil who looks like an attractive winged human woman) as "it".
- Humans in The Pocalypse use "it" for everything else, including vampires, despite the latter being obviously sapient and able to communicate in perfect English.
- In Cherry, Codexx, on realizing the new Cherry is a Wholesome Crossdresser, tells another demon she's "welcome to it." When Cherry calls her out on this, she clarifies: "the fight, you little freak."
- The bug Ktk in Christopher Wright's Pay Me, Bug! insists on being called "it", because it's just the logical thing to call a hermaphrodite. Characters who don't know Ktk have a little trouble remembering to call it "it".
- The SCP Foundation strongly encourages the convention of referring to anomalous humans as "it", since Foundation members shouldn't become attached to the people it has to lock up.
- In a recording of a police questioning of a man whose daughter was a victim of The Slender Man, the bereaved father decides to refer to Slendy as "it" rather than "he".
- In Welcome To Beacon, Josef Priam refers to the Weapon Girls he created through horrific torture experiments as "it", saying "What girl? Beta-Two? It's a machine, not a person." Dex absolutely flips.
- In a video by The Onion covering Beyonce being unhurt after a stray bullet hit a nearby passerby, the passerby is referred to as "it".
- In Void Domain, Devon refuses to refer to any demon as anything other than 'it' or their name.
- Philip DeFranco ultimately decides to use the word "it" for a woman who tortured her two near-infant children on phone video, one of them to death, to get her partner's attention when she suspected him of cheating.
- In the Dog Vlog Kicked Out of Hotel Because of My Service Dog, Drew takes offence to a hotel manager calling his service dog Stella a "that."
If you refer to a dog as a THAT, you're a serial killer.
- One episode of Batman: The Animated Series has Bruce referring to his android duplicate as "it" even when questioning whether the android had a soul.
- Young Justice
- Referenced once:
- Later, in the same episode:
- Later still:
Batman: Is that what I think it is?
Kid Flash: [out of the corner of his mouth] He doesn't like being called an "it".note
- Supervillain and world-class sociopath Harm narrates his battles, referring to his opponents as "it" all the while. The only person he breaks this habit with (other than himself) is his sister Greta, whom he murdered.
- On Gravity Falls, Pacifica says this when she first competes against Mabel: "Aw, it thinks it's gonna win."
- Family Guy:
- In the episode "Quagmire's Dad", Peter says to Lois about Quagmire's sex-changed father "What do we call it again?".
- Earlier in "Running Mates", when Lois tells Chris that women are not objects, Peter responds "That's right, Chris, do what it says."
- Kon from Grojband is usually referred to as "It" by his crush Trina Riffin.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Make New Friends but Keep Discord", the Smooze is mostly referred to as "it" or a "thing", including by Discord, who isn't too convincing when he claims that he cares about his guest. The exception is Tree Hugger, who consistently uses male pronouns when talking about it.
Discord: The Smooze might be an "it", but it's an "it" with an heart of... well... blob.
- Invoked in the South Park episode "Stunning and Brave". The school's new PC Principal accuses Kyle of bring transphobic when he says that Bruce Jenner doesn't deserve to be called a hero for coming out; Kyle says "It doesn't matter" (referring to the issue itself), but PC assumes he was using "It" as a slur against Jenner.
- A very brief moment in Avatar: The Last Airbender has a random bystander scream, "It's going to kill us with its awesome Avatar powers!" when Aang shows up. The episode, "Avatar Day", is about a festival where the Avatar is reviled as a murderer, and he must clear his name - but during the trial he is again referred to as "it". It does not go well.
- In Transformers Prime, Predaking is consistently referred to as "it" until demonstrating the capacity to speak and transform, and consistently as "he"/"him" from then on.
- In the Pinky and the Brain episode "Brinky", Brain consistently refers to his and Pinky's clone Roman Numeral 1 as "it" during his brief infancy.
- Steven Universe:
- Homeworld gems' Humans Are Insects mentality often shows by calling humans "it" or similarly impersonal grammar (Jasper's first words about Steven were "What is this?"). Even some of the Crystal Gems have done the same, as in a Whole Episode Flashback to when Steven's parents met, Pearl refers to Greg as "it," but switches to "he" when she realizes Greg was listening to her. Ironically, they're the ones with No Biological Sex.
- Although corrupted gems are often called "it" even by the Crystal Gems, in "Kindergarten Kid" Steven refers to the gem monster Peridot is pursuing with female pronouns to emphasize that they are deserving of sympathy and consideration.
- In the Hey Arnold! episode "Baby Oskar", Oskar Kokoshka constantly refers to his wife's baby nephew also named Oskar as "it" before he starts warming up to the tyke.
- In part one of the Gargoyles four-parter "City of Stone", the Manhattan Clan confront a group of terrorists, who address Goliath as if he didn't deserve to be considered a sapient being.
Male Terrorist: It's a monster!Female Terrorist: Shoot it!
- Inverted with Charles Lindbergh Jr., the "Lindbergh Baby". He was affectionately referred to as "Little It" by his parents.
- Pretty much averted with infants in general. People don't specifically intend to call newborns "it", but new parents can expect to be bombarded with questions like "is it a boy or a girl?", "is it healthy?" or "how much does it weigh?" It's also common to refer to unborn children as "it", especially if the parents choose not to find out the gender until the baby's born.
- A frightening example is Dave Pelzer's mother. She inflicted terrible abuse on him, and referred to him as "it". His biography about surviving his childhood is called A Child Called "It".
- It became a minor scandal when John McCain, during a 2008 debate, referred to Obama as "that one."
- In the nonfiction book The Men Who Stare at Goats, a quote from an Abu Ghraib guard includes the guard referring to a prisoner as it, in addition to descriptions and some photographs of the abuse that was committed there.
- On The Jeremy Kyle Show, Jeremy often refers to wife-beaters as "that."
- In colloquial spoken Finnish, "it" is used in place of he/she by a majority of Finns and it's not usually considered rude or dehumanizing, though this is never used in formal contexts.
- In Turkish, there is no distinction between he/she/it, so one would always use "it". Since it is the nature of the language, it is considered normal.
- Averted in real life with Hanson Robotic's Jules (pic◊). The robot is advanced enough to understand that he is sexless and androgynous, yet he calls himself "him" because his creators do the same.
- Cory Hicks, one of the four racists who beat Billy Ray Johnson, making him requiring care for the rest of his life, referred to his victim as "it".
- In High/Standart German, the words Kind (child) and Weib (a somewhat archaic word for wife, now being replaced by Frau) are of neutral gender and therefore are referred to as es (it). In general all diminutives like Mädchen (girl, originating from little woman), Männlein (little man), Frauchen (little woman, used for the owner of a dog), Herrchen (little man, used for the owner of a dog), i.e. everything that ends with -chen or -lein is referred to as es (it).
- In Chinese, the word "tā" is the universal third person pronoun. It only acquires gender when written. 他 is male, 她 is female, while 它 is for objects or animals (in Simplified Chinese).
- In Traditional Chinese, 它 is used for objects and 牠 is for animals. The practice of referring animals as 它 in Simplified Chinese seems to be dehumanizing to those who would actually use 牠 in their writing. The fact that animal cruelty is more of an issue in Mainland China also doesn't help.
- The gendered writing for the "tā" pronoun in Chinese is a modern development. They wanted to mirror how European languages gendered their pronouns as a way to show that they were "civilized", thus they began using different characters to represent this.