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"It" Is Dehumanizing

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With numbers, it's easier to commit mass murder for profit.
John: Don't kill him!
Sarah: "It", John. Not "him", "it".
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Extended Cut)

In the English language, pronouns are divided into "he", "she" and the singular "they" for humans and "it" for inanimate objectsnote . Referring to a person as "it" is usually incredibly rude, as it's considered tantamount to denying they are a real person. (Well, much of the time. "It", as can be seen by its usage with animals, used to be for various non-human entities, entities which are hard to classify as male or female, people who prefer the "it" pronoun, or entities of which you are unsure of. Nowadays, it's mainly only preserved in select sentences, such as "Who is it?")

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.

The trope does not exist in most other languages, at least not in the same way. Arabic and many European languages only have translations for "he" and "she". Others like German and Russian do have what can be called "it", but - unlike English - kept the original usage of essentially "miscellaneous nouns/entities". Yet others like Hindi and Turkish use the same pronouns for humans and everything else and do not have gendered pronouns either; the same is true in spoken Chinese, but not in written Chinese.

Recently, societal changes — at least in North America and Europe — have seen a growing acceptance of the idea that people should be referred to using the pronouns of the gender they identify as, making this trope retroactively seem even worse in cases where the subject clearly identifies as male or female. Although some nonbinary people do favor "it" as a pronoun, singular "they" is the most commonly accepted gender-neutral pronoun, and the best alternative to "it" when referring to humans, and Just for Fun there is also the (very) archaic hīe (pronounced like "hue") for plural "it", though good luck using hīe and have anyone understand you.

Incidentally, traditionally "he" could be a gender-neutral pronoun as well as a masculine one, but again this is now considered outdated. "One" is also 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, since many believe that "one" can only be used when you're referring to a non-specific person.

Sub-Trope to Dehumanization, Dehumanizing Insult and Expository Pronoun. Compare What Measure Is a Non-Human?, Do Androids Dream?, Clones Are People, Too, Pronoun Trouble, and Of the People.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • This invoked in Lazy Dungeon Master by Keima to save Niku. He essentially convinces himself that as a slave, Niku is not a person but an object, and as an object counts as an item (specifically, a hug pillow), which the dungeon menu can claim. This manages to last long enough for him to teleport Niku away from a fire that was about to kill her. Afterwards, he never treats Niku as anything less than a person, though he occasionally sometimes thinks of her as a hug pillow in his narration. Fortunately, she's fine with being his hug pillow.
  • 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.
  • Akira in EX-ARM has to remind others many times that he has a name, as higher-ups refer to him as EX-ARM 00-a and treat him like a tool. Only Minami and a couple of other officers care.
  • 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".
  • Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet: 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...
  • Invoked in Highschool of the Dead. The protagonists intentionally called the zombies "them" to help accept they're not living people anymore.
  • 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.
  • 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'.
  • Both official and fan translations for Land of the Lustrous usually refer to Kongou Sensei as "he", compared to the genderless Gems under his charge who typically are comfortable with "they". So when Phos learns of their master's robotic nature from the Lunarians, their language refering to him from then on leans hard into this trope.
  • In Magi: 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.
  • Humorously used once in Nagasarete Airantou. Ikuto defeated the other 3 lords of the island and is now looking for the West Lord, whose identity he never learned. Machi gives him a ride to where the West Lord said would challenge him along with Karaage, the family chicken, that was watching his journey. When Ikuto doesn't see anyone there and asks when the Lord is coming, Machi can't believe that Ikuto still doesn't know who the Lord is and calls attention to Karaage. When Ikuto still takes a while to understand, Machi eventually picks up Karagge in frustration and shoves him in his face shouting "THIS!".
  • 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 Negima! Magister Negi Magi, 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.
  • Zai Vessalius to his son Oz in PandoraHearts, cementing his status as worst father of the year. And then it was revealed that Oz is neither his son nor human.
  • Averted in Pokémon, where neutral pronouns are always used for Pokémon, unless gender is important for the plot, but never as a means to belittle them. This can get confusing with Pokémon whose genders are either confirmed (Ash's Pikachu, for example, who is male) or established in canon as having only one option.
  • 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 She Becomes a Tree, Kisaki, a woman with Woodman Syndrome, has arms in the shape of tree limbs, resulting in most people ostracizing her. When Chishiro, a coworker, asks her out to lunch, Kisaki asks why Chishiro wants to eat with "something" like her, a choice of words that upsets Chishiro.
  • In the English version 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.
  • The penultimate episode of Symphogear G sees Hibiki Tachibana tell Maria Cadenzavna Eve that she hates being called a "Human-Relic Fusion Speciman".
    Maria: "Out of my way, Human-Relic Fusion Specimen One!"
    Hibiki: "No! I'm Hibiki Tachibana, age 16! I'm not some "fusion specimen!" I'm just Hibiki Tachibana, and I came here to talk to you!"
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Marvel Universe, 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".
  • Astro City: An alien empire refers to a human woman they've dragged back to their world in chains as "it", as part of their state propaganda machine (in addition to lies such as "humans don't love their families like we do", or claiming the obviously very normal human woman is a fiendish enemy operative).
  • 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".
  • The Frankenstein Monster: The titular Monster finds it saddening and angering when he is referred to as "it".
  • House of M: Doctor Doom's Fearsome Four has the It, an even more heavily mutated version of Ben Grimm. It's a deliberate insult on Doom's part, and he makes it clear that he doesn't even consider Ben to be sapient despite Ben being shown to be just as intelligent as his normal counterpart but not allowed to express it in any way.
  • The Incredible Hulk: A general sign of how someone feels about the Hulk is whether they're calling the big guy "he" or "it".
  • Marvels: When Phil first sees Maggie in his basement, his internal narration uses "it" when referring to her, but he very quickly starts to slip up and use "her" as it becomes blindingly clear to him that, far from an evil human-killing monster, she is just a traumatized little girl.
  • Supergirl:
    • 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".
  • Superman:
    • Grant Morrison's run on Action Comics (New 52) took Lex Luthor and General Sam Lane's hatred of Superman to a new level by having them and their compliant associates refer to the Kryptonian superhero as "it".
    • In another example that occurred during New 52, Helspont at one point 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!"
    • In Last Daughter of Krypton, Simon Tycho, who wants to capture Kara to make money out of dissecting her body and studying her alien biology, constantly refers to her as a "product" or a "find".
  • 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.
  • Uncanny X-Men: When Stephen Lang and his men have some of the X-Men held captive, one of them pauses over Wolverine because they have no idea what they're looking at (this was long before readers were informed of Wolverine's unbreakable skeleton). Lang just shrugs this off with "whatever it is, it isn't human."
  • In Estranged, the fairy king and queen casually refer to their adopted human as "it," regarding him as an exotic pet. They also neglected to give him an actual name.
  • Earth 2: This continuity's Red Tornado is a gynoid with the mind of Lois Lane, who unfortunately faces persecution from people who disregard her humanity by calling her "it".

    Fairy Tales 
  • Tattercoats: The titular character's mother dies at childbirth, leading the old lord to hate his granddaughter and declare "it might live or die like it liked, but he would never look on its face as long as it lived."

    Fan Works 
  • A Better Word Than Humanity uses this constantly, most commonly by its big bad Dr. Feral when she's talking about or to Donatello. She even goes an extra step and outright punishes him for trying to enforce his own name being used, making it very clear that as long as she has him in her clutches he is nothing but a test subject and will only be referred to as such.
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): San is on the receiving end from humans at times. Notably, Madison in Chapter 11 begins contemplating the draconic former left head of Ghidorah as a he/him instead of an it when she observes San's genuine protectiveness of Vivienne.
  • Adorable Murderbeasts: Trainer Red refers to Zapdos with "It". Not to demean it, or out of gender confusion, but because unlike his other Pokémon, Zapdos is more like a living force of nature, and tends to think like one.
  • In the Cars fanfic Alfa and Omega: Carlisle calls Siddeley "it" because he sees planes as equipment, which Giulia calls him out on.
  • 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.
  • Murakumo Units in BlazBlue Alternative: Remnant are treated by the worst of the villains as less than human and referred to as "it" by them. Terumi even tells Hazel as such in Chapter 76:
    Hazel: What did you do to that girl?
    Terumi: Correction, ya big lug, Number 13 is a doll. A thing. So it's an 'it', m'kay?
  • Boldores And Boomsticks: Ironwood is paranoid that the Absol who came through an Ultra Wormhole could be an advance scout for something and refers to her as "it". Ozpin jokingly misinterprets his question before he and Glynda tell him to use "her".
  • Broken Legends: Kiera insistently calls the transformed Maxie 'it' instead of 'him', despite being repeatedly called out on it. Archie explicitly points out the double standard — his body got warped as well, yet she doesn't dehumanize him.
  • The Owl House finale compliant fic The Cancer Tried has Luz refer to Belos as both it and a cancer. Which given that Belos had corrupted the Witch culture in an effort to destroy their species and infected and tried to control the Titan's body, is a rather fitting description.
  • 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.
  • Dear Diary: Prima initially refers to Dreamtide as "it", thinking that they are not much more than a robot created to serve Reshiram. When she has a conversation with them, she realizes that they have a personality and desires rather than just being an automaton, and stops calling them "it".
  • Destiny Intertwined: As a result of the Fantastic Racism between Warfang society and dark dragons, Hayze is often referred to as "it" by other dragons.
  • Eleutherophobia:
    • Tom has a disdain for Yeerks and tends to refer to them as "it" in his narration.
    • In How I Live Now, Tom refers to hosts as "it" while explaining how they kept morph-capable hosts contained to the Animorphs, and later when he's pretending to be Visser Seventeen, both to show how little the high-ranking Yeerks care about their hosts' wellbeing.
  • Eden, by Obsessmuch: Lucius refuses to accept the son he has with Hermione as a child, even after divination revealed the baby's gender. Because he's a pureblood and she's a muggleborn, he refers to the baby he's fathered as "it". Coming to realize he's come to love the mother of his bastard child makes him drop it.
  • 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.
  • Pearl in Faded Blue hates Steven referring to Blue Pearl as "his Pearl". Though it's more a subversion since he considers "his" Pearl to be family, and this attitude towards Pearls was something Blue Pearl herself taught him.
  • Fate/Black Dawn: At first, Shirou thinks of Mordred, a homunculus Morgan created as a weapon against her sister, as "it." That lasts half a second before Shirou corrects himself, and he later corrects Morgan when she says "it."
  • Fate/Parallel Fantasia: Zouken Matou, who is a major jerkass who barely sees anyone as having worth, refers to all the Servants as "It".
  • Glitched Miko AU: The shadowy organization involved with Miko's creation refused to speak about her as though she were anything but a mindless puppet.
  • In the Turning Red fanfic The Great Red Panda Rescue, Mei is kidnapped and called "it" by her captors.
  • Homura Reacts has Homura refer to Kyubey as 'It', which Mami corrects. While Kyubey doesn't really have a gender, the terminology is more a expression of how much Homura hates Kyubey than an attempt at being accurate to Kyubey's biology.
  • Infinity Train: Knight of the Orange Lily, upon learning that Specter got fused with a living lightning bolt on the Train that likes to switch places, he constantly calls them an "it", even when said lightning bolt (Easter) switches out to correct them with a "They". Stories later in Infinity Train: Voyage of Wisteria, when Specter gets off the Train, he gets a call from London and a white blur that he asks to get "it" out of the way...but it turns out that's Easter. Train communications to the real world renders the train and denizens blurry. Specter immediately realizes his faux pas after that.
    • In the Alternate Universe Fic, Infinity Train: Seeker of Crocus, Ryoken immediately starts calling Easter "it" (just like he would use it to the Ignis) which pisses Specter — who has just been regaining his memories of his previous Train trip — and respectfully uses the "They" pronoun like Easter requested.
  • 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.
  • In Kaedehara Kazuha's Foolproof Guide to Accidental Kidnapping, Yae Miko is bent on calling the puppet she lets rot in isolation for five centuries "it". In opposition to that, Kazuha respects Kunikuzushi identifying as male, while several people use female pronouns based on him being a Long-Haired Pretty Boy.
  • Due to her bad experiences with the Incubators, Homura generally refers to the Kwami whose Miraculouses she obtains in Kwami Magi Homura Magica as 'it', assuming them to be the same thing, though she does drop it when they show to be far more moral beings than the Incubators, though it is also clearly a reflection of her opinion on them: she refers to Nooroo consistently as 'him' after the Butterfly Kwami shows clear empathy towards her, while when she first meets other Kwami, or deals with Duusu who actively dislikes her for attacking Felix and goes out of his way to annoy her, she still calls them 'it'.
  • This is the reaction from Nine and his lieutenants in My Hero Academia: Unchained Predator. After finding out Wolfram knew about the Slayer and didn't tell them, Nine was about ready to kill Wolfram for this catastrophic lapse of judgement. Curator has to intervene before it got bloody.
    Curator: There is no need for any unnecessary violence, Nine. The League of Villains will take full responsibility for Wolfram's blunder and we'll ensure that the Steel Sabers are compensated for this unfortunate turn of events.
    Mummy: Compensation?! Half of our entire organization is dead because of that thing!

  • 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".
  • 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.
  • The Night Unfurls:
    Olga: What was that... that doll out there taking care of the graves? Why is it moving?
    Kyril: She.
    Olga: *narrows her eyes slightly*
  • 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.
  • In The Ouroboros, April mentally refers to her alternate as 'her time clone' and 'the person', dodging around thinking of her as her as much as possible. This is at least partly a coping mechanism to avoid confronting the fact that she, along with the Casey Jones and turtles she's familiar with, tricked their alternates in order to replace them and claim their lives for their own.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, the Sensational Sisters often refer to Misty as "it", showing how little they care for her.
  • Rabbit of the Moon: After Gascoigne transforms into a Beast and kills Bell a second time, the narration stops referring to Gascoigne by name, only referring to him as a "Beast" and "it", emphasizing how the Old Hunter has completely lost himself to the monsters he once hunted as well as Bell's resolve to give him a Mercy Kill.
  • 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."
  • In the Death Note fanfic Second Chances, L calls Rae "it" for a similar reason that he calls his team members by letters.
  • The Second Try: Asuka angrily refers to her unborn child as a "thing" after her pregnancy is revealed due to how much she doesn't want to be a parent (her outburst having come right after her significant other figured out that her recent lack of appetite was a misguided attempt to induce a miscarriage via starvation). Of course, she changes her tune long before the child is actually born.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Sword Art Online Abridged's second season, Asuna has traumatized Sugou's mooks so much through repeated escapes and rampages that their Enemy Chatter runs along the lines of "OH GOD IT'S LOOSE!!" or "IT'S IN THE VENTS!"
  • 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 Tower of Babel the main characters switching from calling Shades "it" to he/she/they is a sign of Character Development. Same thing with Grimoires.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Frozen Fractals: Due to her ice powers, Karl refers to Elsa with dehumanizing terms such as "creature"
  • Implied in the Final Fantasy VII fic Us and Them; while Aeris is pregnant with their first child, Sephiroth gets a little annoyed that she won't find out the gender and keeps calling the unborn baby "it".
  • Hogarth averts this in I am Superman and refers to the Giant as "he", but Taylor and the narration refer to him as "it", though it's subverted in that case because the Giant's gender is unspecified and isn't done in a dehumanizing way. The PRT play this straight, only calling him "it" since they see him as either a Tinker-tech weapon or a mechanical Endbringer. During her meeting with Taylor, Piggot has to actively try to avert this so as not to unintentionally anger her.
  • Since Jesse in Ordinary Girl is seen as more like Bureau-property than an autonomous human being by most of the Bureau's staff, they tend to call her "P7" or "Lab rat." Trench in particular refers to her as "It", not even addressing her while she's in the room.

    Film — Animation 
  • The Iron Giant: Hogarth chides Dean for calling the Giant "it".
  • From Monsters, Inc., when Mike finds out that Sulley has befriended a human toddler and nicknamed her "Boo":
    Mike: Sulley, 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".

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Alien: Resurrection, General Perez and the doctors are discussing the development of the Ripley 8 clone, referring to her as "it".
  • 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!"
  • Bicentennial Man: Usually, you can tell who believes Androids Are People, Too or if Andrew is Just a Machine by the way they say "him" or "it". Dennis Mansky, CEO of NorthAm Robotics, Miss (Grace Martin), Ma'am (Mrs Martin), and Lloyd Charney all call Andrew an "it", treating him disrespectfully and wanting him scrapped/gone. In contrast, Sir (Richard Martin) and Miss (Amanda Martin-Charney) call Andrew a "him", but still don't quite believe him to be "alive".
  • 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?
  • A more subtle version in Blazing Saddles when Mongo attacks the town of Rock Ridge. When Sheriff Bart ask who Mongo is, Waco replies he's not so much of a "who" as more of a "what".
  • Bumblebee: Agent Burns, who has a severe distrust of anything Cybertronian, insists on referring to Bumblebee as "it" and calling him a machine. By contrast, Charlie always refers to Bumblebee as "he." After Burns has his Heel Realization, he tells Bumblebee and Charlie to leave before the rest of Sector Seven arrives stating that they'll be looking for "him", and salutes Bumblebee after calling him "soldier" when bidding him farewell.
    Burns: It is a machine!
    Charlie: He's more human than you'll ever be!
  • 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."
  • Con Air:
    • Falzone refers to the picture of Poe's daughter as "this shit".
    • And there is serial killer Garland Greene's iconic introduction.
      Johnny: "What the fuck is that?"
      Starkey: "That's Garland Greene, man."
  • Die Hard: Technically, Hans' "Dies ein ist mein!" would count, but it's far more probably that a word-for-word Translation Train Wreck of "This one is mine!" happened. A German might say, "Dieser eine ist meiner!", with proper flexion and male grammatical gender; or (more probable, since the former would be too pompous, especially with bullets flying left and right) "Der/Das ist meiner!" with male/neutral gender, both would work.
  • Frankenstein (1931): It's important to note that Victor's famous declaration is "It's alive! Alive!" not "He's alive!"
  • In George of the Jungle, when Ursula wakes up in George's tree-house, she is immediately freaked out by Ape. When Ape begins to move towards her, she screams, runs to George and asks "What does it want?!" in fear. Cue Ape snarking in a way that only John Cleese can.
    Ape: "It" wants "its" Physician's Desk Reference, if you don't mind. Unless of course you'd rather die of dengue fever.
  • Ghost Note: When Mallory is hugged around her legs by her cousin Kyle, she responds by saying "Eww, get it off me!".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Discussed in I, Robot when Sonny thanks Detective Spooner for calling him "some'one', not some'thing'".
  • In My Country: A Torture Technician seeking amnesty repeatedly refers to his victim as "the subject," and not by his name.
  • The Jungle Book (2016), it is inverted due to the 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..."
  • 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".
  • In Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom after the dinosaur auction goes to hell, Mills is trying to flee the Lockwood estate, when he bumps into Owen, Claire, and Maisie. He insists that they hand over Maisie; when they refuse, he refers to her as a "thing" when he reveals she's the clone of his late employer's deceased daughter.
  • 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 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.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Incredible Hulk (2008): Emil Blonsky initially refers to the Hulk as an "it", mainly because he has no idea what the Hulk is to begin with, until General Ross sets him straight. By contrast, in The Avengers (2012), Nick Fury refers to the Hulk as "he".
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron: Tony Stark and Steve Rogers initially refer to the Vision as an "it", while Thor addresses him as a "he" right from the start. By the time of Captain America: Civil War everyone's referring to Vision as "he".
    • Werewolf by Night (2022): Many of the hunters refer to Man-Thing either as "the monster" or "it", while Jack, his friend, calls him by name (Ted) and instructs Elsa to treat him like he's "an old friend").
  • 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".
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • 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!"
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: When they capture a mermaid, Blackbeard and his pirates call her "it". Phillip Swift, who is much more sympathetic, insists on giving her the name "Syrena".
    • Implied in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. While Captain Salazar doesn't outright refer to pirates as "its", he makes it clear that he doesn't consider pirates human beings at all, regarding them as a disease that has "infected the seas."
      Barbossa: I have heard stories of the mighty Spanish captain, who's hunted and killed thousands of men-
      Salazar: No, no, no, no, not "men"! Pirates!
  • Prisoners:
    • Played with. While Keller never ascribes the pronoun "it" to Alex during his torture, he certainly subscribes to the spirit of the trope (denying him his humanity and personhood) by saying that Alex "stopped being a person the moment he took [his and Franklin's] daughters".
    • Joy also refers to Holly as "it", which makes sense given that she must have come off as a kind of monster (which is true in a way).
  • In The Scavengers, Politically Incorrect Villain Captain Harris refuses to aknowledge Nancy (who is black) as human, and always refers to her as "it".
  • 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.
  • Silence of the Lambs:
    • Buffalo Bill addresses his victims as "it" when talking to them in second person. ("It rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again!")
    • 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.
    • In a moment meant to definitely fire an insult back and also depersonalize him, after Dr. Lecter crudely insults Senator Martin when he'd promised to help in the Buffalo Bill case, she hisses out, "Take this thing back to Baltimore."
  • 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.
  • Star Wars: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 director's cut, as seen in the quote above.
    • Terminator Genisys: Kyle originally refuses to call Pops/Guardian "him," and regards the reprogrammed Terminator with great suspicion. In time, however, he comes to trust the machine, and tells Sarah "He loved you," after Pops seems to have sacrificed itself for her.
    • Terminator: Dark Fate has Alicia, the woman who Carl the Terminator married, throw the reversal at Sarah while talking about him.
  • In Titanic (1997), Rose's fiance Cal is enraged at her behavior with Jack — from being drawn nude to running off with Jack on the ship away from Cal's right-hand man Lovejoy — and hits a boiling point by slapping her and invoking this trope:
    Cal: It is a little slut, isn't it?
  • In the film of Twilight Breaking Dawn part 1, Edward refers to Bella's pregnancy as "it" (among other things).
  • Vivarium: Tom and Emma are forced to take care of an alien baby. Gemma usually refers to the boy as "he" and makes efforts to sympathize with him. Tom, on the other hand, always refers to the boy as "it" and objects when Gemma does not.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • In X2: X-Men United, Stryker yells "Shoot it!" in reference to Wolverine (sort of).
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Trask uses gender pronouns when referring to Mystique and her mutation, but slips into "it" when faced with a mutant in person.
  • Zardoz: Several members of the Vortex refer to Zed, a Brutal, as "it," particularly Consuela.


By Author:

  • Isaac Asimov:
    • Foundation and Earth: The genetically engineered and hermaphroditic Solarians insist on being called "it", since they are complete, perfect beings rather than half human. Any gendered terms are insulting because they imply that it is less than a whole human. When the characters have rescued a Solarian child, who must now live in a human society instead of among the Solarians (who would kill the child because of the surplus population), they feel more comfortable with a gendered pronoun. The characters call the child "her", partly on the grounds that she is capable of giving birth, making this example played straight.
    • "Lenny": Although Dr Asimov's robots aren't strictly masculine, it is nevertheless common for his characters to refer to them as "he" and to give them masculine nicknames. In this story, however, because the LNE prototype isn't even capable of normal conversation, the characters say "it" when talking about Lenny.
    • Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn: Sten Devoure is a racist Sirian who believes that his eugenically-enhanced heritage makes him better than average humans, and it is especially apparent with Bigman. Devoure refuses to use "he" as the pronoun to describe Bigman, instead saying "that thing" and "it." The insult becomes dangerous when he tells a group of robots that Bigman is not human, and orders them to "break it". He makes his feelings clear in the following quote (ironically using 'him' in the process):
      "We had an example here a while ago, the Councilman's companion. It infuriated and nauseated me merely to be in the same room with him; a monkey, a five-foot travesty of a human being, a lump of deformity..."
    • Norby, the Mixed-Up Robot: The manager of the used robot shop always refers to Norby as an "it". Most people usually refer to robots as an "it" because they have no gender, but Norby objects because the lack of respect implies that he isn't a person. Jeff starts saying he/him immediately, while it takes a bit longer for Fargo and others to change.
    • "Robbie": Out of the three main characters, the only one to call Robbie "it" instead of him/he is Grace Weston, because she sees the character as a source of danger rather than a person.
    • "Satisfaction Guaranteed": Claire Belmont usually uses 'he' to describe Tony, despite being a robot. In fact, she scolds herself into remembering that he is just a robot, insisting on using 'it' to describe Tony (but she quickly relapses into 'he').
  • Bruce Coville:

By Work:

  • 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.
  • Aurora Cycle: The Faceless Goons who work for the GIA and are after the main characters are referred to as "it" to emphasize how inhuman they seem. It turns out that they are not human anymore, being essentially dead components of the Ra'haam gestalt.
  • In Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, trans man Gabe is harassed and assulted by two men who call him "It," both online and in person.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Codex Alera: Throughout Academ's Fury, every bit of narration refers to Ambassador Varg, a 9-foot tall wolfman from a species called Cane, as "it". This continues through Cursor's Fury until the very end when the narration uses "she" to refer to a fleeing Cane along with the wham that this is the first time anyone's ever seen a female Cane. Afterward, the proper gender pronouns are used by Tavi and allies. When Isana first sees Ambassador Varg in Captain's Fury, she remarks at just how large "it" is. Tavi responds that yes, he is quite big.
  • The Cornelius Chronicles: The hermaphrodite Cornelius Brunner 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. However, The Final Programme was written in 1965, and neither Michael Moorcock nor anyone else really had a good precedent.
  • Discworld:
    • 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 Making Money, the golem (now called Gladys) is a unique entity.
    • In The Truth Lord De Worde considers any non-human this, and after calling Otto Chriek this, he loses his composure.
      Lord De Worde: Keep it away from me!
      Otto: You think I am an "it"? Vell, let me act like an "it"!
  • Doctor Who Novelisations: The novelization of "The Christmas Invasion" uses this early on to show how alienated and freaked out Rose is by the Doctor's regeneration, and how she doesn't initially think that he's the same person.
  • 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.
    • Harry also refers to the skinwalker as "it". In this case, it is appropriate since the skinwalker is a genderless, shapeshifting quasi-deity of pain and suffering and has never had a shred of humanity, in either the physical or metaphorical sense.
    • There is also some confusion about the pronouns to use when talking about the Corpsetaker, who basically exists as a body-hopping incorporeal consciousness. However, since the Corpsetaker seems to prefer female bodies when at all possible, consensus came down on female.
  • In The Enemy Papers, 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, at first due to this trope, but eventually out of respect.
  • Fate/strange Fake: Gilgamesh's original summoner refers to him as "it" while discussing his research on Gilgamesh's previous appearances in the Fourth and Fifth Holy Grail Wars.
  • Five Children and It: The eponymous "it" is the Psammead, or wish-granting sand-fairy.
  • The Fractured Stars novella Junkyard has a non-human example. McCall refers to Junkyard the dog as "he" even before she's sure of his sex because she feels that "it" is dedogizing.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • "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." Hermione herself is also muggle-born.
  • The Host (2008): 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.
  • 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'.
  • Into The Broken Lands: The mage-crafted Human Weapon Uvili is called "it" by those who only see her as a tool and "she" by those who care about her preferences. Garrett shifts from the former group to the latter, but still says that his father used to keep "it" chained in a cellar, because he couldn't bear to acknowledge the truth of the matter.
  • It is 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".
  • The Lost Metal: One sleazy politician not only refers to the shapeshifting kandra species as "it", but claims that they're not even thinking beings, merely puppets of their god. He turns out to be an especially nasty Politically Incorrect Villain.
  • While it's debatable if "unnaturals" in Market of Monsters are Homo sapiens or not, they're still clearly intelligent, sapient people who can interbreed with humans. This doesn't stop fully fledged Homo sapiens from seeing them as less than human and selling and slaughtering them like cattle. Reyes refers to her prisoners, including Nita, as "it," not "he" or "she." She and her buyers talk about the "product" exactly like they're non-sapient animals, right in front of them.
  • Partly inverted in The Murderbot Diaries: Artificial intelligences like the protagonist are called "it" both by humans and by themselves. While humans have a range of opinions about the personhood of AIs, the AIs themselves have No Biological Sex and don't want to be human, so "it" suits them just fine. The main character actually mentions in its narration that it prefers "it" to any human pronouns, since it feels that doing so would be pretending to be more human-like as opposed to being a non-human person.
  • In The Martian Menace, a Sherlock Holmes novel by Eric Brown looking at the aftermath of The War of the Worlds (1898) with Martians living on Earth in relative peace, Watson acknowledges that the Martians' nature means that they are biologically best defined as "it", but since he feels such a term demeans the Martians, he generally refers to them as male in the novel.
  • Maximum Ride: The kids are referred to as "it" by the scientists who created them. In The Angel Experiment, Angel is very upset when the scientists experimenting on her continue to refer to her as "it".
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Human clones in Project Tau are only ever referred to as 'it,' in keeping with their legal status as livestock.
  • Zig-zagged in the Red Dwarf novel Last Human: Reketrebn the symbi-morph, who is a genderless shapeshifter, is referred to as "it". Gelf society doesn't consider symbi-morphs to be real people, but Lister continues referring to Reketrebn as "it" even after they escape together.
  • Room:
  • Inverted in Ness Brown's space horror novella The Scourge Between Stars. Watson the droid is referred to as "it" by everyone but Dr. Otto, its maker, who calls Watson "she". However, this is actually the opposite of treating Watson like a person—he's an abusive creep who molests Watson, and calling it "she", far from an indicator of respect, is just another method of forcibly sexualizing it. Jacklyn, our protagonist, only ever calls Watson "it", but treats it far better.
  • Averted in Sector General, which is 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.
  • Referenced in Semiosis when the sapient bamboo Plant Alien takes a human name and begins communicating in earnest with the humans, at which point the humans start "calling it "him" as if he were a man and not a hermaphroditic plant".
  • In The Ship Who..., humans with severe enough disabilities to be enclosed in life support "shells" are called "shellpeople", and generally go on to be the biological "brains" of spaceships, space stations, and other installations. They do not like to be regarded as equipment or treated like AI, which they find tremendously disrespectful. It grates on Helva when her brawn Teron, discussing brainships that have mysteriously vanished, refers to them as "it", and while considering the issue herself she has a parenthetical aside calling them "they/she/he never it, please".
  • In Spiral Arm, when Khembold Darling and Number Two decide that Mearana has outlived her usefulness, they switch to calling her "it".
  • Star Trek Expanded Universe:
    • Discussed briefly in the book The Lives of Dax, when referring to a Trill symbiont as "it" leaves a character uncomfortable.
    • In the Star Trek: New Frontier series, Burgoyne 172, a member of the Hermat species, explains that they were originally going to use "sheheit" as a pronoun until discovering that it sounds like a rude English word.
    • In general, particularly in Trek Lit from the 1980s and 1990s, "s/he" (possesive and objective "hir") is frequently used for sentients whose gender is other than conventional male or female. And there is at least one passage in which a being (possibly the aforementioned Burgoyne 172) takes great offense when referred to as "it."
  • Pufftail the cat from Stray is offended when a man calls him an "it".
  • Invoked in Terra Ignota by celebrity performance artist Sniper, who prefers the pronoun "it" because it's spent years cultivating an image of a "living doll" to be dressed up and played with by its fans and caters to the fantasies of the entire world by presenting itself as any possible gender (their most popular merchandise includes life-like replica sex dolls of any sex). Sniper wants to be dehumanized so that its fans will better be able to fantasize that their Sniper-doll is the real Sniper.
  • Despite what is said in the Real Life section, Jerome K. Jerome of 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.
  • Averted by the Mrdini in Tower and the Hive. They are a genderless species, and as such insist on being referred to as "it" in human language.
  • Played with in the Vorkosigan Saga, in which "it" is considered the polite way to address Betan hermaphrodites.note  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.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • 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.
    • Used in the second sense of the trope for The Exalted in the Night Lords series. 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 
  • Warrior Cats: In the Dawn of the Clans arc, Clear Sky says to Thunder about River Ripple, "I was just putting that cat in its place." This demonstrates who he's becoming and how little he's come to care for those outside of his group.
  • When the Angels Left the Old Country: That's the point, really. Little Ash (and the narrative) always calls the angel "it" because it isn't human.
  • 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".
  • The Wolf Chronicles: Borlla's Establishing Character Moment is when, upon meeting Kaala, she pokes her painfully hard and comments to Unnan, "It doesn't look like it'll live long".
  • IT falls in to the "too inhuman" variety in A Wrinkle in Time. It's a giant evil brain.
  • In Wuthering Heights, Nelly Dean's narration refers to the seven-year-old foundling Heathcliff as "it," only switching to "him" after the boy is christened. Years later, Heathcliff disdainfully refers to his own son Linton as "it" — simple yet clear proof that in his quest for revenge on all his past oppressors, the abused has become the abuser.
  • Inverted in 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 because It shows up more often than any of the other powers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Averted and Inverted in Altered Carbon. Unbodied Cortical Stacks are near-universally referred to as people or as belonging to people.
  • Angel
    • In "She", male demons from a No Woman's Land refer to females as "it".
    • In "A Hole in the World", Knox accidentally outs himself as a worshipper of Illyria by referring to Fred (whose body he has used to house the elder god) as "It".
  • 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. Athena's growing acceptance by the other characters can be tracked by when people switch from calling her "it" or "thing" to "her" and "you".
    • 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".
  • In Blake's 7, Avon consistently referred to the three intelligent computers shown as "it" even though the other characters all called them "he". However, Orac (one of the computers) was actually the one character with whom Avon shared the most consistent mutual respect.
  • 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.
    • Buffy at first referred to Dawn as "it" after finding out that she is not really human.
    • In "The Body", Buffy refers to Joyce as "the body". She is horrified at herself for referring to her deceased mother that way.
    • The First is mentioned a couple of times in season seven by the Arc Words "From beneath you, it devours". Until "Conversations With Dead People".
      The First: Not "it". Me.
  • In Call the Midwife, a father resorts to calling his disabled baby “it” to provoke his depressed wife into bonding with him. It works.
  • Cold Case:
    • Daniela is called "that", "this", and "thing" by Chris's father after finding out that she is trans.
    • In "Forever Blue", Jimmy describes his gay attraction to Coop as a "curse" and a "thing".
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Planet of the Ood": When the Doctor and Donna come across a dying Ood in the snow, Donna asks what's wrong with it. The Doctor corrects her that the Ood is a "he".
    • "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.
  • Don't Look Deeper: Sharon pointedly calls Aisha "her" and not "it" when proposing her creation with her bosses, in keeping with her view of Aisha's being a person, while they do the opposite.
  • 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.
  • Friends: Rachel decides to wake her day-old baby from a nap which causes the infant to start screaming uncontrollably. After several hours of this Rachel starts referring to her daughter as "it".
    Rachel: What am I gonna do, it's been hours and it won't stop crying.
    Monica: "She", Rach, not "it", "she".
    Rachel: Yeah, I'm not so sure.
  • Fringe:
    • 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.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Reek is constantly referred to as a "pet" and a "creature".
    • Lady Olenna calls Septa Unella an "it" to mock her stoicism.
      Does it move or talk?
    • Arya refers to herself as "a girl" as part of her training as a Faceless Man. When she breaks free of them, she says that "A girl is Arya Stark and I'm going home".
    • Lord Randyll Tarly is furious at his son Samwell for being with the wildling girl Gilly. He refers to her as "it".
  • 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".
  • 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
  • In Hotel del Luna, Man-Wol hears from Sanchez that Chan-Sung's girlfriend has arrived from the US. Man-Wol asks again "What arrived?"
  • In The Pilot episode of Knight Rider, Devon refers to KITT as "he", and Michael is quick to correct him, having not yet accepted KITT as a 'person'. "It is an 'it', not a 'he'!" This changes of course with Knight and his support team consistently refering to KITT as "he". Incidentally writers for the series would keep using "it" for the robot car and this would have to be corrected in rewrites.
  • In one episode of Law & Order, an abusive and drug-addicted mother refers to her children as "it", the first sign that she's not exactly a doting parent. On the other hand, however, the children's father doesn't do this but is nonetheless at least as bad as the mother when it comes to how he treats the children.
  • In The Mandalorian, the Empire remnants who are after the Child, Grogu, for experimentation mostly refer to him as "The Asset". In "The Reckoning", Moff Gideon delivers a threatening speech demanding that Din Djarin hand Grogu over during which he refers to the infant as "it". After Gideon kidnaps Grogu in season two, Din sends Gideon a message where he repeats the speech but pointedly changes every "it" to "he".
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Daredevil (2015): Elektra Natchios 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.
    • WandaVision: Hayward breaks out the dehumanizing language to make clear that to him, Vision isn't Wanda Maximoff's lover, but a weapon he wants to revive for his own lawbreaking purposes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Rome:
    • Slaves are treated as objects and are referred to in neutral terms.
    • Cleopatra uses "it" to refer to her brother/husband's eunuch advisers.
      "It must not speak. It must die!"
  • The Serpent Queen: Rahima is bullied by a fellow servant girl who consistently refers to her as "It" as a means of insult.
  • 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.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation has done this several times, usually in regards to the android Commander Data, who clearly identifies as male and is, ahem, "fully functional".
    • 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. In "Reunion", 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 the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Cogenitor", members of an alien species's third sex are referred to as "it" to signal how they are treated as second-class citizens by their species.
  • Star Trek: Picard:
    • In "Maps and Legends", Commodore Oh refers to Dahj as an "it."
      Oh: Your team destroyed the thing before it could be interrogated.
    • Later in the same episode, Lieutenant Rizzo uses "it(s)" twice for Soji:
      Rizzo: Has the machine given up the location of its fellow abominations? Really, has it told you anything at all?
    • In "The Impossible Box", Narissa corrects herself from calling Soji "she," replacing this with "it" to show her contempt.
      Narissa: You are in love with her. With it. A program, a machine.
  • In Supergirl (2015), Kara objects to Red Daughter being called "it" by Lena, pointing out that Lex may have indoctrinated and trained her to be a weapon, she is still a person underneath with the same inherent goodness as Supergirl.
  • Supernatural:
    • Played with in a season 11 episode 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.
    • Despite being primordial beings who logically predate gender, God and the Darkness are still referred with gendered pronouns ("he" and "she") to indicate their yin-yang dynamic. On the other hand, the Shadow, who is not part of this equation and predates both of them, is called "it" by pretty much everyone.
  • 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".

    Puppet Shows 
  • Fraggle Rock: Fantastic Racism is a major underpinning of the initial interspecies relations in the show. The various central species (Fraggles, Doozers, Gorgs and humans) start out misunderstanding each other at worst, and knowing nothing about one another at best. In the episode "Boober and the Glob", Boober Fraggle trips over Cotterpin Doozer. This conversation results:
    Cotterpin: Say, watch where you're going!
    Boober: What? Who said that?
    Cotterpin: I did! You know, you Fraggles are a real nuisance, always running around, barging into things.
    Boober: It's a Doozer!
    Cotterpin: Good eyes.
    Boober: But why is it talking to me?
    Cotterpin: Because you just ran into me, that's why! And I am not an "it". I'm Cotterpin.
    Boober: Oh, don't tell me it has a name!
    Cotterpin: Too late. I already told you.



    Tabletop Games 
  • 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).
  • In Nomine: The introduction of Malakim angels 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.
  • OGRE: 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".
  • Rocket Age: The designers 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.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade: The Tzimisce Sascha Vykos self-invokes this to show how detached it is from humanity. In later editions however, Vykos would use they/them pronouns to still maintain being divorced from gender, but now showing a sense of identity (and presumbably to avoid any unfortunate implications in regards to non-binary people).

  • 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).
  • After Elphaba's birth in Wicked, her father not actually her biological father rejects his green skinned daughter with "Take it away".

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • Baldur's Gate III:
    • The mage Lorroakan refers to "the Nightsong" and "it", despite both of you knowing she's an aasimar called Dame Aylin, and plans to imprison her permanently so he can steal her immortality for himself.
    • Subverted with Omeluum, a benevolent mind flayer whose pronoun is "it", and whose research partner Blurg therefore means no disrespect by referring to it that way.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, if enough armed henchmen are knocked out, the remaining thugs will call Batman "It".
    • A recording of an interview with Killer Croc has someone call him "he", at which point someone else asks, "He? You're kidding me, right? That thing's not a man."
  • 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 BloodRayne, and the entire franchise, Kagan, the "sperm donor" who brought Rayne into the world, through raping and then murdering her mother, constantly refers to Rayne as "that thing" or simply "that." Purely to dismiss her as an inferior for the "crime of turning her back on her vampire legacy." Ie, having a childhood where he wasn't constantly controlling and abusing her.
    • The mooks in the first game while Rayne holds them and slurps their blood. "Get it off me! Get... it... off..."
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: One of the Abusive Precursors not only calls the Player Character "it" but avoids directly addressing them at all and refers to them as a "Source vat", of note only for the Soul Power she can drain from them. Which, in fact, was the purpose for which her species created the other races.
  • 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 because Solas sees Cole as having gained a gender when he took human form.
  • 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.
  • Detroit: Become Human: Androids are generally referred to as "it" by humans and compliant androids, while deviant androids and humans sympathetic to them will use "he" and "she". Hank initially uses "it", but as he softens up to deviants, he will start using "he" and "she".
  • In The Elder Scrolls Online, Meridia reveals that the seemingly human character Darien Gautier is actually her vessel and creation, not a person with independent will. To emphasize this she repeatedly refers to him as it.
  • 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 than "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.
  • Fallout 4 uses this with many characters when they talk about synths, but one particular instance stands out, that being during the Blind Betrayal quest: Danse is revealed to be an escaped synth who had his memory wiped, and Elder Maxson tasks you with tracking him down and executing him. Danse had absolutely no idea he was a synth and has served the Brotherhood of Steel for years with unquestioning loyalty, but if you convince Danse that he deserves to live despite being a synth and then stand up to Maxson in his defense, Maxson disregards the fact that Danse is the best soldier he has and only refers to him as "it". Danse is visibly hurt.
    • 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."
  • 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 Final Fantasy XVI, Bearers are magic users who are treated as slaves at best or hunted for sport at worst. They are given a Brand, a face tattoo that marks them for life. Newborns that show any magic abilities are usually given up for adoption to be trained as slaves, with most families considering their Branded relatives not part of their family.
  • In Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach, it's telling that Glamrock Freddy, who treats himself and the other animatronics as actual people and spends the game trying to convince Gregory that the others are Not Evil, Just Misunderstood (not evil, just reprogrammed is a bit more accurate), refers to the creepy, Hated by All animatronic the Daycare Attendant as 'it'.
  • In Fostering Apocalypse, the cult refers to Barrett as "it" and locked her in a cage like an animal upon summoning her.
  • In Genshin Impact, in the past the Melusines were subject to Fantastic Racism by the people of Fontaine. As such, Chief Justice Neuvillette eventually made it outright illegal to refer to them as "It", stating that they must be referred to with female pronouns. Thankfully by the time of the game the Melusines have largely integrated into human society and are treated as equal members of their society to the point that treating them like pets (a common mistake for people from other nations) is also illegal.
  • 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.
  • Hollow Knight: Everyone who knows the protagonist's nature, including their own mother, refers to them as an "it" when interacting with them. The same goes for all other Vessels in the game aside from the protagonist, including the titular Hollow Knight. This is a plot point as they were made in an attempt to seal the Radiance in a bug-shaped can, and in order for that to work they had to be completely hollow so she couldn't influence them. If they were treated as people, then they might get the idea that they were people with wills and desires of their own, and that would leave a weakness for the Radiance to exploit. The current Hollow Knight had such an "idea instilled" because the Pale King raised it as his child, which is why the Black Egg Temple is a Leaking Can of Evil... The narrative also leans towards the position that The Pale King's solution to the Radiance and her infection was untenable: A being cannot be completely hollow, and attempting to keep a being hollow amounts to nothing aside from acts of pointless cruelty and dehumanization that no-one should have to go through. Better, then, to seek a different solution.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Averted with the time traveling Guardian in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. Everyone in Hyrule ends up liking it and treating it with personhood, to the point where post game there's a questline where people across the lands work to repair it after its Heroic Sacrifice.
  • 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.
  • Metal Gear:
    • An inversion in Metal Gear Solid, where Otacon's overinvestment with Metal Gear REX causes him to consistently call it 'he', even though it's a non-sentient tank.
    • In Metal Gear Solid V, Kaz refers to Quiet as an 'it'.
  • The Big Bad of Mother 3 refers to the Masked Man as an "adorable monster", "it", and "a robot", even when told of his true identity. Claus regains his humanity shortly before killing himself.
  • Nobody Saves the World: The Calamity refers to Nobody - and later Randy - as "it" to show how much it despises them.
  • In Octopath Traveler, Lucia wants to use the knowledge from the From the Far Reaches of Hell tome to create magic crystals made from human blood, that have the power to prevent death by natural causes. Her ultimate goal is to acquire all the knowledge in the universe for herself, to fuel her belief in her superiority to everybody else. She sums up her narcissistic and selfish personality with "A human can only learn so much in its short lifetime. I will gain the time, the power to understand everything". Zig-zagged in that Lucia refers to specific individuals such as Cyrus and Yvon by their proper gender pronouns, though considering that Lucia had put on a calm and polite façade to conceal The Sociopath underneath until Cyrus tells her just how cold-hearted he thinks she is, it's left ambiguous as to whether her usage of proper pronouns was just part of her façade or if she really believes nonspecific individuals aren't worth being called anything other than "it", but specific individuals are.
  • 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."
  • Overwatch has a robot "Omnic" hero Bastion, who is officially referred to as an "it" in an unusual case that actually has to do with characterization and not discrimination. Many Omnics in the current day function and are treated on a similar level of humanity, and most are referred to with gendered pronouns (and even non-gendered "they/them" pronouns). Bastion, however, is an Omnic that predates all of that, having originally been designed as a literal weapon of war, with the fact it developed any sapience or humanity at all being a massive aberration — it'd be like referring to a handgun who suddenly became self-aware. Its gender-neutral design and lack of a voice also makes it trickier to personify with a gendered pronoun.
  • Pâquerette Down the Bunburrows: Pâquerette asks Ophéline to call one bunny by "they" instead of "it" because they are "living creatures".
  • Happens in a way in Persona 3 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".
  • 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.
  • 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, and has no fixed gender or sex. He seems content to identify as male, however.
  • In The Quarry, this is how Laura refers to the werewolves, not out of cruelty, but to desensitize herself to the fact that the creatures she is hunting are actually people.
  • This is used by several of Tachyon's propaganda machines, especially the one on Cobalia, 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 ensure that if Ratchet is nearby, everyone will drop what they're doing to kill him, under the threat of their own races and even planets being destroyed. It's not played for laughs.
  • 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.
  • Inverted in Shadowrun Returns where Racter consistently refers to his Ace Custom combat drone Koschei as a 'he', not an 'it', despite the latter being a nonsentient and nonsapient robot. The Player Character is allowed to point this out, to which Racter responds that he built Koschei's combat AI himself and tied it to his own prototype mind-altering implants: Koschei essentially runs on Racter's Id and acts on his sadistic impulses, making Koschei in some ways a part of himself.
  • The first sign in Sonic Frontiers that Eggman is beginning to see Sage as his daughter and not just another AI is when his Egg Memos begin referring to her as "she" instead of "it".
  • Justified in Star Trek: Bridge Commander with regards to the Kessok, a new species made up for the game. At one point Lieutenant Commander Data is negotiating with a Kessok captain and the player's first officer interrupts to ask why Data keeps calling the Kessok "it" and asks whether the Kessok captain is female. Data replies that the Kessok are a silicon-based lifeform instead of carbon-based and that they do not appear to have separate genders, and that now didn't seem like the appropriate time to ask about Kessok reproduction.
  • 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.
  • After Gabe finds out in Syphon Filter 2 that Chance is a traitor, he calls Chance out for getting his own men killed. Chance refers to his men as just "expendable assets".
  • Tales Series:
    • Inverted in Tales of Vesperia by teen researcher Rita Mordio, who prefers to spend her time with the Magitek Blastia. She ascribes them pronouns as she sees them as people.
    • 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.
  • 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?
  • In Triangle Strategy, Sorsley refers to one of the Rosellan slaves as an "it" when he orders Booker to kill him for begging for water.
    Sorsley: Put the poor thing out of its misery, Booker.

    Visual Novels 
  • BAD END THEATER: The narration in the Hero's story uses "it" pronouns for the Underling and other minor demons, because he sees demons as mere monsters. The Maiden's story alternates between "it" and "they" pronouns, because she is more open-minded about meeting demons than the Hero. The Underling and Overlord's stories use "they" pronouns exclusively, because, well, they are the demons.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Doobus Goobus video "Gamer Frogs: The Gamer Code," the short frog refers to Samus as "it."
    Tall frog: What is "it"?
    Short frog: The woman.
    Tall frog: Are women really just objects to you-
    Short frog: Unquestionably, un-fucking-questionably.
  • In Glitchtale, Betty is commonly dehumanized and called "it" and "that thing" by all the characters because of her horrible, horrible actions. It still comes across as mean of them all anyway, if only because no other character gets this treatment. However, it is partially justified as because of her artificial nature, Betty technically doesn't have a gender.
  • In Shrapnel, Toki gets upset and is quick to remind Reznya that Bellicose has a name when the former refers to Toki’s Killer Robot bodyguard as "that thing".

  • 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 subverts the trope and clarifies: "the fight, you little freak."
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures: Dan is subjected to this for being a Cubi, though the "it" is apparently ruder than Hand Blasting Dan in the face.
  • Daughter of the Lilies: Zig-zagged regarding the cannibalistic cave elves. They're classified as non-sapient by other species and are referred to as "it" by most of the Adventure Guild mercenaries sent to kill one; The Heart Thistle, who knows about cave elf culture and secretly is one herself, uses "him" and has many more reservations about the job.
  • Dean & Nala + Vinny: Vinny is answering questions from readers.
    Q: Isn't it troublesome to travel with a cockroach? What if you step on it?
    A: IT!? I'll have you know I look after myself, you impertinent scallywag. I AM NOT TROUBLESOME..!
    Vinny: Man, that really crinkles my feelers.
  • Digger: In an unusual variation, 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.
  • Freefall: The Mayor and Mr. Kornada call Florence 'it' because, as an Uplifted Animal, she's an Artificial Intelligence product rather than a legal person. The Mayor comes to see the error of her ways, but Mr. Kornada is far too self-centered to see other humans as people, never mind an AI.
  • Forward: In a future setting where gendered pronouns are considered archaic, humans are referred to as "they" and A.I.s are referred to as "it".
  • The Greenhouse: The demon 'Red' does not appreciate the way her host's friend Liv refers to her. In fairness, she is a parasite drinking down Mica's life force, and no one but Mica can actually hear her, which probably contributes to the dehumanization as well. Her host, Mica, starts using feminine pronouns for her and gives her the nickname Red once they start talking, and Mica starts seeing Red as more than a problem and an antagonist. Soon enough, Liv and her family are doing the same.
    Red: Refer to me as anything but 'it' if you please.
  • Grrl Power: Sydney objects to Arianna calling their new friend Trent "it".
    Arianna: [whispering] So you just brought it home? This is not a lost dog, Sydney, you can't keep it!
    Sydney: Okay, first off, it's a him. I mean, if anything was ever male, it's a writhing mass of tentacles.
  • The Guide to a Healthy Relationship: Julian has suffered "it" among other horrible insults from childhood on, due to being intersex and their voice not matching with their feminine appearance. Now an adult, they still have a resident Jerkass bully in their social circle, Brandon, who refers to Julian as "it" and "thing".
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: Most non-humans use either gendered pronouns or "they/them", with one exception — the Knight Templar angel 6 Juggernaut Star Scours the Universe is consistently referred to as "it" by the narration. 6 Juggernaut Star despises humans and considers any angels that express humanity to be deviants, so "it" is implied to be an intentional choice to distance itself from humans and their language. Juggernaut Star also reveals an extremely human-looking true form whenever its concentration slips, which implies that there's a lot of messiness involved in its choice of pronouns and gender identity.
  • Our Little Adventure: Julie's group kept referring to Joyelle the Erinyes (a devil who looks like an attractive winged human woman) as "it".
  • Outsider: The Loroi captain Stillstorm is a tactless Jerkass who, in the limited time that they are together, refers to the human main character as "it" because she's convinced, due to him being unable to be mind-read by the naturally telepathic Loroi or picked up by their telepathy-based technology, that he's at best something to be regarded with loathing and at worst a creation of their mortal enemies, the Umiak.
  • The Pocalypse: Humans use "it" for everything else, including vampires, despite the latter being obviously sapient and able to communicate in perfect English.
  • The Prime Of Ambition: A gate-guard referred to Thanatos this way (the next page shows that he knows what this meant).
  • Schlock Mercenary: This is referenced 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"!
  • Scoob and Shag: Daph refers to Shag, a clone of the original Shaggy, as "it" and "that thing", showing her disdain for him; Fred doesn't approve.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: "It" is the only known designation of a spirit world pursuer Onni and Lalli are trying to avoid. The use of the pronoun by Onni contributes to the mystery about its exact nature.
  • Star Trip: This is the way the Taikese refer to Khut, viewing the shapeshifter as a monster on account of how Khut devastated their homeworld a millennium prior and trying to capture them.
  • Thunderstruck: When Grant Grogan is introduced, he's calling Hayaka, the half-Kitsune in the Steel Angels and Saxony's better half, an 'it'. Hayaka betrays nothing; Saxony looks like he wants to put a bullet through Grant's head.
  • Unsounded: After General Bell kills a chirography operator rather than bother even trying to ask her to be silent he tells Karl to get rid of "it", meaning her body.
  • xkcd: Someone uses this on a furry in strip #471 "Aversion Fads."

    Web Original 
  • 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".
  • In Void Domain, Devon refuses to refer to any demon as anything other than "it" or their name, believing that projecting human attributes onto demons is an easy way to make a fatal mistake around them. In fairness, most of the demons he binds into service would happily eat him alive, but the attitude doesn't endear him to Eva's non-malicious demon allies.


    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • The Addams Family (1992) episode "Dead and Breakfast" has Mr. Limp protest "Get it away" after Granny Frump makes advances towards him.
  • 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. "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.
  • 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.
  • Chowder: In "The Bruised Bluenana", Panini sees through Chowder and Gazpacho's attempt to end her excuse to play house with Chowder over a bluenana by having the latter claim to be the fruit's mother. This is because he referred to the fruit as a he and not an it. However, the real mother arrives, confirming the bluenana to be a male.
  • Many vampires in Castlevania (2017), including Carmilla, see humans as nothing more than livestock and often refer to them as "it".
  • BOYD from DuckTales (2017) is an android formerly known as 2BO. He was created by Gyro Gearloose, and was well liked before he went haywire. When they met again, Gyro continues to call BOYD it until he learns that his partner, Dr. Akito, had caused BOYD's berserk state and used him as a weapon of evil. After Akito's defeat, Gyro started treating BOYD as a "definitely real boy" instead of a machine.
  • 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."
  • In Journey Beyond Sodor, Frankie refers to Thomas a "little tank engine". When Thomas eventually grows annoyed with it and points out he has a name, she responds by saying the same referral with extra emphasis.
  • 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!
  • On Gravity Falls, Pacifica says this when she first competes against Mabel: "Aw, it thinks it's gonna win."
  • Kon from Grojband is usually referred to as "It" by his Precocious Crush Trina Riffin, who despises him even more than she does all the other band members.
  • 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 the Monster Force episode "The Rage of Frankenstein's Bride", Dr. Ducaine insistently refers to the Bride of Frankenstein as "it".
  • 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. Of course, as a Blob Monster, it's unclear if the Smooze actually does have a gender identity.
    Discord: The Smooze might be an "it", but it's an "it" with a heart of... well... blob.
  • The Oblongs episode "Disfigured Debbie" has Debbie Klimer refer to Milo as "it" while complaining to the teacher that Milo won't stop talking to her.
  • Played with with the Grimwalkers from The Owl House. The Collector seems to go back and forth about whether or not he counts them as people, as he refers to Hunter as "that kid", but to the Grimwalkers as a whole as "those things". Belos never refers to them as objects, but he does continually refer to them with singular "he", even if he's talking about them as a collective, signifying that he sees them as iterations of the same person and not as individuals.
  • 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.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): In "Knock it Off," Dick Hardly, Professor Utonium's old college roommate, first sees the Girls, he outright calls them "things" in front of the Professor and talks about making a profit off of them. Hearing this, Utonium, who had just expressed to the Girls how much of a great friend he was back in college (when in the flashbacks that depicted him to be anything but) finally realizes what a Jerkass Dick really is and forces him to leave.
  • Invoked in the South Park episode "Stunning and Brave". The school's new PC Principal accuses Kyle of being transphobic when he says that Caitlyn 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.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "On the Wings of Keeradaks", Wat Tambor's reaction upon entering a destroyed lab to find that Echo, the ARC trooper the Techno Union was using as a Wetware CPU, has been rescued is to say "They took it!", clearly considering him nothing more than his property and an experiment.
  • 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.
  • Transformers: Animated: In 'This is Why I Hate Machines", when human Captain Fanzone and Autobot Ratchet are mistakenly teleported to Cybertron, many of the Autobots react in disgust and horror at Fanzone and refer to him as "it".
    Grandus: (after seeing Ratchet give Fanzone a ride) He touched it!
  • Transformers: Prime
    • Soundwave’s deployer companion, Laserbeak, is usually referred to as “it” by most of the Autobots, particularly in Triage, as they see him as little more than a drone and an extension of Soundwave. Interestingly, every Decepticon who has referred to him consistently uses male pronouns and recognize him as an individual, including Megatron.
    • Predaking is consistently referred to as "it" until demonstrating the capacity to speak and transform, and consistently as "he"/"him" from then on.
  • In Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones?, minor character Pam occassionally addressed the title character as "it".
  • Young Justice
    • Referenced once:
      Kid Flash: He can talk?!
      Superboy: [annoyed] Yes, "he" can!
      Kid Flash: ...It's not like I said "it".
    • Later, in the same episode:
      Dr. Desmond: And get the weapon back in its pod!
      Kid Flash: Hey, how come he gets to call Supey an "it"?
    • 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.

    Real Life 
  • 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 children still in the womb 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. It may have something to do with Finnish using the same word for "it" and "that" (as in "that person").
  • 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. 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 require care for the rest of his life, referred to his Black victim as "it".
  • In Standard German, the words Kind (child) and Weib (a dated word for woman/wife, now being replaced by the feminine word Frau) are of neutral gender and therefore are referred to as es (it). Any word that ends with -chen or -lein, such as Fräulein (young lady), Männchen (male animal), or Mädchen (girl), is also technically neuter, although in spoken German, it has become more common to use feminine pronouns (sie, ihr) with "Mädchen" and "Fräulein" because it is considered more respectful.
  • In Greek, "agori" (boy) and "koritsi" (girl) are both neuter, whereas their given names are naturally gendered.
  • Ditto for Bulgarian, where the words for "boy" and "girl" are in neuter gender, as are those for "child" and "person" (in the legal sense). Because neuter gender is automatically assigned to any noun ending in -e or -o, it often affects terms for occupations coming from Romance languages that end in -e or -o, such as "ataché" (ambassador limited to a particular field such a cultural or military relations), "piccolo" (lobby boy) or "impressario" (talent agent).
  • In Hungarian, there are no gendered pronouns. The pronouns most times aren't even even said out loud, and only present when the subject is really important to the speaker, who wants to stress it, otherwise it is implied by the form or desinence of the verb. In chase of inanimate objects or animals (where an English user would use "it"), the pronoun is almost always implied, only present when there is no other way to form a grammatically correct sentence. However keeping the subject hidden is not dehumanizing or disrespectful when talking about people.
  • 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.
  • Owners of pets and animal caretakers who have grown very close to a particular beastie with a name will surely feel this way whenever someone else calls said animal an "It" rather than by its gender and name. Even named animals with known genders are still referred to with gender-neutral pronouns for the sake of convenience, a problem that persists even on this very wiki. PETA also proposed that Associated Press change its style guidelines to refer to all animals with gendered pronouns even if not named for this reason.
  • Jane Goodall, one of the world's leading experts on chimpanzees, used "he" and "she" when referring to them in her thesis. After the first reading, the thesis was returned to her with all the pronouns changed to "it". She angrily corrected everything back and stuck to it.
  • Inverted by some nonbinary people who choose to reclaim "it/its" as their pronouns. Some also use "it" not for the sake of reclamation, but for convenience and ease of use. Sometimes the usage of "it/its" may reflect a personal matter, such as Otherkin who sometimes use it to reflect their disconnect from humankind, or people suffering from Internalized Categorism. In these cases, people who actively do not use "it/its" for a person who has explicitly requested its use are considered rude, if not bigoted altogether.
  • "Nó" is an acceptable pronoun for referring to someone or something else in Vietnamese, generally for people much younger than the speaker. If the person being referred to is older or has a higher social status than the speaker, it's impolite and/or demeaning, unless the person has specifically requested its use.

Alternative Title(s): It Is Dehumanising