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Kill the Poor

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"The sun beams down on a brand new day,
No more welfare tax to pay,
Unsightly slums gone up in flashing light.
Jobless millions whisked away,
At last we have more room to play,
All systems go to kill the poor tonight."
Dead Kennedys, "Kill The Poor"

When someone takes Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty" a bit too literally and fights poverty with the most dubious and immoral methods imaginable.

Instead of seeking to eliminate poverty by educating and supporting the impoverished so they can attain a greater quality of life and income, some believe it would be easier to eliminate poor people with mass executions.

On the plus side, this approach would have a whopping 100% success rate. On the other hand, it's horrifically unethical, and also counter-productive to a more prosperous economy (if you kill workers of low-paying jobs, now nobody is doing their job, which hurts the economy; also, many businesses would be doomed without poor customers.)

Less lethal alternatives may involve poverty being made illegal and poor people being treated as criminals, possibly forced into slave labor or a similar venture so that they can be "put to better use." This has some historical precedence with things like the workhouse system in 1800s Britain, but fiction will usually take it to even more horrifying extents.

In either case, this trope is usually rife with sociopolitical and socioeconomic Satire and Symbolism, exaggerating how Upper Class Twits and other wealthy elites both want to view the lower classes and, more cynically, how they may actually view such groups. In this fashion, the concept could be used as a form of Black Comedy. To other extents, this could involve a character crossing the Moral Event Horizon and establishing themself as a Politically Incorrect Villain. It might also lead to a High-Class Cannibal.

A Sub-Trope of The Social Darwinist and Slobs Versus Snobs.

Compare Disposable Vagrant, for the murder/exploitation of impoverished people on a smaller/more discreet scale For Science! or other personal motivations.

Contrast Eat the Rich.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Part of the background of the Barsburg Empire in 07-Ghost are campaigns to exterminate the poor and the chronically infirm by rounding them up and burning them alive.
  • The spirit of the trope is present in Attack on Titan after the breach of Wall Maria. The amount of refugees means that there's not enough resources to maintain them all. The government organized an operation to "reclaim" Wall Maria and sent hundreds of thousands of refugees (including Armin's grandfather) so they would be devoured by the Titans and thus have fewer mouths to feed.
  • In Black Clover, Asta, Magna, and Noelle happen upon Heath Grice and his associates covering the village of Sosshi in an impenetrable (except for Asta's Anti-Magic sword) dome of mist, just saving the entire village from being crushed by his ice. When questioned why he tried killing them, Heath explains how he considers anyone who lives in the Foresaken region are nothing more than "filthy beasts" inferior to those of the higher classes and that they deserved extermination.
  • In Count Cain, Lord Gladstone, the high priest of the organisation Delilah, presents himself as a philanthropist but secretly hates the poor, and orchestrates a large-scale bombing of the public opening of the Crimone Gardens, resulting in a huge death toll. While the deed is intended as a mass Human Sacrifice, he seems particularly happy that most of the victims were working-class.
  • Galaxy Express 999 takes place in a Crapsack World where rich nobles in mechanized bodies are free to hunt poor humans for sport. (This is how the main character Tetsuro's mother died. She was even stuffed and mounted on a wall.)
  • In Kaiji, the contestants for the Deadly Game are drawn from the lowest dregs of society, people who are deeply in debt whether through circumstances beyond their control or through their own poor judgment. Then they are coerced to participate in the games for a money prize that will solve their financial problems if they survive that long and beat out the competition, all for the amusement of a collection of insanely rich clients and yakuza. The Big Bad justifies this by asserting that he and the other "elites" had to spend decades of their lives working hard to accumulate the wealth they're offering up, so it's only fair the contestants offer up their lives as well.
  • A flashback in One Piece shows Luffy's home island is half palaces of the rich, half dumping ground where everyone else lives. In an effort to "clean things up" before a visit of the World Nobles, the local rich set the other half on fire.
  • In The Promised Neverland, this was the solution that Queen Negravalima and the other demon nobility agreed upon when it was discovered there wasn't enough food to feed every citizen of the demon kingdom—the idea being to just let the commoners starve, knowing they would kill each other for resources before that, an idea that fellow nobleman Geelen vehemently opposed, advocating instead to share their excess premium food with the commoners. In response, the Queen and the other noble families collectively framed Geelen and exiled him and his family so there wouldn't be anyone who had the political power who would stop them.
  • Isabelle Of Paris is set during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, in Paris. When the Prussians win the Battle of Sedan and overtake the country, the Bourgeoisie flee en masse to save their skins. In episode two, a commoner child asks his mother why the French are fleeing en masse. She replies that the Prussians are coming, and they are doing so to protect their homes and properties. When the child asks if they will flee too, the mother replies that they have nowhere to go, and that them and the Bourgeoisie live in an entirely different world than them.

    Comic Books 
  • In Archie vs. Predator, when the Riverdale gang sees a shooting star (in actuality the Predator's ship landing), there is a montage of most of the kids making wishes. Cheryl Blossom wished for "Death to the Proletariat."
  • The Dregs: Beck Lasko, who's responsible for gentrifying the slummy area of Vancouver, responds to resistance from the homeless population by killing them and serving them in his restaurant.
  • A brief scene in Kingdom Come sees one Anti-Hero, The Americommando, and his cronies declare war on meager immigrants, claiming "the poor, tired, huddled masses camping on our shores, begging citizenship" are the biggest foreign threat to the United States after the disaster in Kansas, though it's suggested that he's under Mind Control.
  • The Mighty showed Alpha One suggesting to his fellow members of Congress a way of helping his planet that involves killing most of the degenerates. They didn't approve.
  • The title character in Nikolai Dante once encountered a countess heavily based on the legends of Elizabeth Bathory who insists that the blood she bathes in is "happily donated" by young women in return for tax exemptions. After Dante uncovers a secret lair belonging to the countess in which dozens of young women are being held in captivity and bled for all their worth, it turns out that these particular women are all unemployed and, therefore, couldn't pay any taxes so they get drained wholesale.
  • A Punisher villain who called himself the Elite was an Upper-Class Twit who terrorized and murdered people he believed "lowered the tone" of his gated community. While he started out targeting actual criminals, by the end of the story he was preaching that all poor people should be sterilized, and killed if they were spotted outside after curfew. This led to him repeatedly butting heads with Mr. Payback, a fellow vigilante whose ideology was Kill the Rich and the Holy, a deranged priest. When they finally meet the Punisher, he just kills them all.
  • In V for Vendetta, the homeless are rounded up and placed in death camps along with other "undesirables."

    Films — Animated 
  • A pretty child-friendly example pops up in The Great Mouse Detective. Professor Ratigan, who has just claimed supreme power over all mousedom, proposes a heavy tax on all social parasites, particularly the elderly, the infirm, and little children.
  • In Robots, Madame Gasket is revealed to be melting down lower-class robots into products for her son's company to sell.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In American Psycho, sadistic Serial Killer Patrick Bateman feels nothing but ill will and contempt for the lower classes. After he sends many mixed signals to one homeless man he meets — from pulling out his wallet and flipping through the money he has to berating him to get a job — Patrick stabs the homeless man to death after he praised Patrick for being "so kind." In his confession to his lawyer over the phone, Bateman claims to have killed "maybe five or ten" homeless people altogether. Though by the end of the film, it's unclear if he's actually killed anyone.
  • Arsenic and Old Lace (both play and film): the Brewster aunts are an elderly Serial Killer pair that invites homeless people to their home and serve them poisoned wine, and their son buries them in the basement. An unusual variant in that they are all insane and the old women sincerely think that doing this is an act of kindness, while the son (who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt) doesn't really know better.
  • Circle: The Rich Banker suggests picking off people based on their "societal contribution" and goes on a rant against people on welfare, which just ends up painting a target on his own back. He survives several ties, but is finally eliminated when he tries to get the Little Girl killed.
  • Reno in The Driller Killer originally targeted homeless people because they made him feel disgusted.
  • The Danish dystopic comedy Hvordan Vi Slipper Af Med De Andre ("How We'll Get Rid Of The Others"). 'The Others', in this case, refers to the leeches of society—those who cost more than they pay in taxes, like habitual criminals, people on benefit, and just generally anyone who doesn't pay enough taxes. It's basically about a near-future dystopia where the government decides to get rid of these people by summary execution in order to balance the budget.
  • The "lifetime as currency" system in In Time is ostensibly a form of Population Control. In practice, it kills people from the lower classes at a young age so they don't outlive their usefulness while granting the wealthy ageless immortality.
  • The titular event in The Purge is explicitly encouraged as a means of killing off homeless people and other "leeches of society" types. In the sequels, it turns out the poors aren't being killed quickly enough for the New Founding Fathers' liking, so they send out death squads to speed the process along, and put a hit on the Presidential candidate running on a platform to stop it.
  • Resident Evil: The Final Chapter reveals that the Zombie Apocalypse pervading from Resident Evil: Extinction and onward was all orchestrated by the original Alexander Isaacs. The T-Virus was developed to intentionally break out and "give humanity a clean slate," all the while the Umbrella Corporation elite was kept in cryogenic stasis beneath the Hive to wait it out.
  • In the Robocop series, OCP's devised plan is to level most of Detroit and build the new Delta City by using increasingly unscrupulous methods to push the agenda. By RoboCop 3, the Rehab officers are paramilitary mercenary cops that have free rein to harass, threaten, imprison and execute the people of Detroit as they see fit. All their attention is focused on the poor and destitute that are "holding back progress." In the end, the Detroit PD resigns en masse and joins with the people stuck in the slums while the Rehab forces enlist several street gangs in a city-wide war.
  • In the film version of The Running Man, Richards tries to stop his platoon from firing on a group of housewives in the middle of a riot brought on by starvation. Both this version and the novel treat the trope as the reason for the deadly game shows.
  • Society: In the climax, the upper class literally consume a member of the lower class by assimilating his body mass.
  • While everyone gets processed into Soylent Green sooner or later, the poor are much more likely to be "sooner" and the rich much more likely to be "later". The rich have medical care, protection from the violence of the desperate people outside their luxury condo-fortresses, and adequate (if unimpressive) nutrition. Meanwhile, the only public programs that seem to exist for the poor are the facilities for "going home".
  • In The Thinning, the United Nations passes a Population Control law on the world, with obviously brutal results, and America's purge consists of killing anyone who doesn't do well in school. Seeing as how wealth enables rich kids to hire private tutors, this doesn't target genuinely stupid people nearly as much as it does the poor. To make things worse, the purge secretly ignores intelligence and targets people with a rebellious streak or those who pissed the high class off, and instead of killing the children, they're forced into secret slave labor.
  • Titanic (1997): When told that half the people on the ship are going to die, which will primarily consist of third-class passengers, Cal says that it won't be the better half that perishes. In fact, keeping the third class passengers waiting behind locked doors to drown while the wealthy passengers are placed on lightly-occupied rescue boats is even more reminiscent of this (the poor weren't actually locked in on the real ship, although they still suffered a higher death rate than the rich, who got places in the lifeboats before the rest).
  • The Mexican film Un Mundo Maravilloso ends with the Minister of Economy declaring poverty illegal so all social services are stopped altogether, the poor are simply written off from all official statistics and all the impoverished people are isolated in concentration camps to fend for themselves. He wins the Nobel Prize in Economics for this.
  • Venom (2018)'s main antagonist Carlton Drake, head of the scientific research company Life Foundation, orders homeless people as the test subjects for his experiments. The homeless are bribed with money to sign waivers and documents, and since they have no ties to the community no one would ever notice they were missing thus preserving the company's image. Afterwards, the homeless were locked in cages and used as hosts for the Symbiote aliens who would either drive them crazy or devour their internal major organs, killing them.


By Author:

  • Marquis de Sade had some of his characters muse on doing this, including possibly the first modern proposal of bioterrorism, since one says they should deliberately spread plague in poor areas. Others propose burning poorhouses and charity hospitals, along with using the poor in lethal medical experimentation. At least one author has seen a parallel with the later acts and philosophy of the Nazis, as his characters justify this in similar ways (although there were differences as well). The people whom they abduct, rape, torture, and then kill are also usually poor (often children) because that they're more vulnerable.
  • The 18th-century rabbi Nakhman of Bratslav wrote a story/folktale/parable in which there is a land where the rich eat the poor.

By Title:

  • In Animorphs, one of the Megamorphs books begins in an alternate universe where the homeless "are rounded up and shot."
  • In G.K. Chesterton's The Ball And The Cross, the Devil (who is in disguise at the time) incorporates this into one of his false portrayals of Heaven. This serves as the Glamour Failure that tips off the atheist Turnbull to the true nature of his host.
  • Although he doesn't advocate outright killing the poor, in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol Ebenezer Scrooge does advocate the poor offing themselves, which later comes back to bite him during the Christmas Present sequence. This is a Take That! towards Thomas Malthus, who notoriously predicted that population would soon outstrip resources and advocated letting the poor starve to help solve this problem.
    Solicitor for the Poor: Many would rather die than go there [to prison or to a workhouse].
    Scrooge: If they would rather die, then they had better do it and decrease the surplus population.
  • Futuretrack Five by Robert Westall turns out to be about this. It's what Scott-Astbury was really up to—deliberately trying to wipe out the working class and replace them with a selectively bred version who would be more respectful to their "rightful masters".
  • In Germinal, as Étienne becomes more "educated" and more disgusted with the poverty surrounding him, he begins to harbor this sentiment.
  • In Robert Southey's poem "God's Judgment on a Wicked Bishop" (based on the legend of Bishop Hatto, below) a greedy bishop refuses to share his food stocks with famished people and, fed up with their pleas, invites them to a huge barn for a feast, and then burns them all alive. He is then eaten by a pack of rats.
  • Jonathan Swift's satirical A Modest Proposal encourages poor parents to sell their own babies and children to be eaten as a delicacy by the rich so that they can have a means of receiving an income with which to rise above the lower class and not have to be burdened by having to raise kids while struggling with poverty, as a parody of prejudice toward the Irish, plus the often crackpot "reforms" then proposed for poverty.
  • Night Huntress: In the first book in the series, the Man Behind the Man is having vampires eliminate poor people to bolster his approval rating as governor, and plans to get himself elected president and expand nationwide.
  • Richard Bachman's The Running Man. Well, it sure ain't rich people trying out for Swim the Crocodiles or Treadmill to Bucks. It's poor and desperate people like Ben Richards. And the Games themselves serve to distract the lower class from the fact that they're dying of emphysema and lung cancer as a result of air pollution, while the upper class gets fancy nose filters as protection from it.
  • Scavenge the Stars: The mysterious benefactor flooding the city-state of Moray with fake coins finds out that the coins induce a fatal illness called Ash Plague. He uses it to his advantage by withholding the cure and allowing it to kill off the poor and downtrodden of the city because, as a rich man, he looks down on them.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • It's mentioned offhandedly that Joffrey's proposed solution to beggars and starving poor people in King's Landing is to kill them. He at one point brings a crossbow to the castle walls and starts shooting at the people outside the gates begging for food.
    • Roose Bolton gets dozens of squatters to help rebuild Winterfell. Once they're done he has them all hanged (at least he didn't flay them alive, as per his House's tradition).
    • Cersei has more than a touch of this going on: from going after both Robert's bastards and their mothers whenever possible (which means the smallfolk first, because they're an easy target — Edric Storm and his mother not-so-much since they've got Houses Florent and Baratheon in their corner) to disappearing the easily disappeared into the Black Cells when they start getting... inconvenient to her. That she considers fallen-on-hard-times lords and ladies to be as disposable as any landless knight, Wandering Minstrel or prostitute should be a warning. And, that's not including the open season she has declared on anybody who happens to 1) be vaguely male and 2) a dwarf (or similar). Apparently, any and all the collateral damage on two continents is well worth eventually getting her brother killed.
  • The book Stone Cold is about a serial killer who, after being kicked out of the Army, lures homeless people to his flat and murders them. He does it because he believes that they are "polluting" the country.
  • In The Third Millennium (a fictional history book supposedly written in the early 3000s), the "Age of Crisis" ended in 2180 with the death of "The Lost Billion," over 1 billion missing persons between 2000 and 2180 that were never found; most were poor. Disturbingly, the authors imply that their deaths ended up saving the world, not because they were poor but because they lacked either the will or the ability to give up their old ways of life and find new ones, and thus were the last remaining force holding humanity back from the world of the future.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Zigzagged with Tempest, the villainous organization of wealthy individuals from the first season of Arrow. Their plans to level the Glades, the low-income/ghettoized area of Star City, seem to be classic Kill The Poor behavior... but, towards the season's end, their motivations are revealed to stem from disgust (often due to personal tragedy) at the Glades' large population of criminals and Apathetic Citizens even despite more conventional philanthropic efforts at helping the residents. So, they still want to Kill The Poor, but it's because they believe the Glades form a Wretched Hive sub-region of the city rather than just for being poor.
  • Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report has, on at least one occasion, equated the "War on Poverty" with the "War on Drugs" and has wondered why we haven't yet made poverty illegal.
    • During one banter segment with Jon Stewart at the end of The Daily Show's 10th Anniversary episode, Colbert remarked about how Stewart's show is all about supporting "the underdog" and Colbert can't believe how he ever backed that losing horse. That's why Colbert on his own show now supports "the overdog" (specifically, big business). When concluding his point, Colbert quotes the Trope Namer!
      Like mis hermanos The Dead Kennedys say, "Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor!"
    • When offering solutions to help the poor and unemployed without having to raise taxes for the wealthy, Colbert suggested that rich people should buy the natural rights of poorer individuals and took Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal seriously, calling for poor children to be sold as food for extra cash.
    • Colbert wants the Occupy Wall Street "pity party" to end so that Wall Street can get back to their own party—snorting the ground-up bones of the poor.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • Slaughtering homeless people on large scales happens so frequently that the culprits have their own nickname: "house cleaners."
    • The rich and completely insane killer in the episode "Legacy" believes that he's doing the world a favor by exterminating street people, who he views as completely subhuman garbage, tainting everything they touch. When the detective who watches over the part of the city the killer gets his victims from is actually rewarded due to the lower crime rate, despite the detective trying to bring attention to the fact that all these people are missing, the killer is insulted and sends him a letter saying he should be ashamed for stealing the credit for other people's work. At the end, when the killer is surrounded by the police just as he is about to murder someone else, he actually screams "Let me do my job!" before being shot.
    • Another serial killer-of-the-week was a former firefighter who was also a germaphobe. When saving some homeless people from a fire got him infected with HIV because of blood spatter, he concluded that all of them were nothing more than walking diseases and had to die, so he began hunting homeless people one by one and drowning them in bleach before setting them on fire.
  • One segment on The Day Today focuses on how London police are clamping down on homelessness... LITERALLY—with car wheel clamps. Any homeless person found asleep or motionless after 9 PM is clamped and forced to stay where they are upon waking up. They are later prosecuted and punished.
  • Dinosaurs has a fair share of cases where the trope is invoked.
    • When the bipeds declared war against 4-Leggers, the biped President announced the young and the poor would be drafted.
    • In "Network Genius", there was a debate on whether rich dinosaurs should eat poor dinosaurs, the proposition's supporters claimed being food was the only thing poor people were useful for, that the poor "have had it too easy" and those opposed claimed the poor could contaminate whoever ate them as there's no wine strong enough to make up for the poor's stringy meat.
  • Forever Knight: One of the show's most despicable of its many killers-of-the-week was a businessman who considered the poor to be parasites and took the mantle of "Dragon" so he could exterminate them with a flame thrower. He even lured in one of his victims by promising the man some spare change.
  • An annual cull of the poor was one of Tim's policies when running for Prime Minister on The Goodies.
  • In Lois & Clark, the homeless are shown to be immune to President Tempus' telephone-linked subliminal messaging, by virtue that none of them own a phone. In response, Tempus passes legislation making it illegal not to use the phone, then lines the homeless up before a firing squad.
  • A MADtv (1995) sketch had the mayor of a town addressing the press to reveal his new plan for dealing with the poor. He would give them all virtual reality helmets that would show them everything they ever wanted, allowing them to live out their lives in peace. The test subject they put one on sees a beautiful woman in the distance, holding a steak dinner and a bottle of booze. He runs towards her, which leads him into traffic where he is killed by an oncoming truck. It concludes with the mayor declaring "And that's how we'll eliminate the homeless ... problem."
  • Midnight Caller: G. Gordon Liddy's character in "City of Lost Souls" arranges for homeless people to be murdered because he sees them as leeches.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look had a sketch all about this where the Prime Minister, in a meeting about Britain's economic problems, asks if his aides have done an analysis on the effects of killing all the poor. When they protest that the country would never do such a thing, he gets offended, pointing out that he'd never said they would do it; he just wanted to make sure they'd looked at all the options (the analysis shows it wouldn't help). He does want to round up all the dwarves, though...
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus has this John Cleese vox pop:
    Cleese: Well I think they should attack the lower classes, first with bombs and rockets to destroy their homes, and then when they run helplessly into the streets, mowing them down with machine guns. And then, of course, releasing the vultures. I know these views aren't popular, but I have never courted popularity.
  • A Saturday Night Live sketch referenced this. It was about the cheerful hosts of a morning news show who start having breakdowns on the air when their teleprompter breaks. Trying to improvise, Will Ferrell's character says that someone should get a bunch of guns to "sweep out those ghettos." Cut to commercial.
  • Squid Game: The contestants for the Deadly Game are drawn from the lowest dregs of society, people who are either very poor or deeply in debt, whether through circumstances beyond their control or through their own poor judgment. Then they are coerced to participate in the Games for a money prize that will solve their financial problems if they survive that long, all for the amusement of a collection of insanely rich clients. This also makes it less likely that the authorities will actually go and investigate the disappearance of all these murdered people.
  • In the Star Trek episode "The Cloud Minders," on the planet Ardana, the poor are enslaved and forced to live out their entire lives in underground mines.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine two-part episode "Past Tense", Sisko, Bashir, and Dax accidentally travel back to Earth Twenty Minutes into Our Future. Sisko and Bashir are assumed to be homeless by the police who find them, and they are sent to a "sanctuary district" (i.e., walled-off ghetto) for the indigent. The government of the time claims that it's a progressive measure to help the less fortunate, but Sisko points out that it's really just a way to sweep the poor under the rug so other people don't have to think about them. While people there are supposed to be helped, the system is unable to help them all, with the weak preyed on by strong ones (usually criminals who'd been swept up with the rest).
  • The actions taken by the British government in Torchwood: Children of Earth verge on this. When aliens require 10% of the children of the world, the government eventually decides to take that 10% from the most impoverished sections of society. One politician in particular implies that, given the world's overpopulation in general, this may not be a bad thing at all in the long run.

  • The Trope Namer is the Dead Kennedys song "Kill The Poor," which plays with the idea of wealthy politicians, lobbyists, and corporations getting together and eliminating poor slums in a nuclear holocaust for their own benefit.
  • Eric Bogle's song "Mirrors" is about death squads of policemen being paid by businessmen to kill the street kids of Rio's slums.
  • Fairport Convention's "Genesis Hall", from the 1969 album Unhalfbricking:
    You take away homes from the homeless
    And leave them to die in the cold

    Mythology and Folklore 
  • Vlad Tepes (AKA Vlad the Impaler — the man who Dracula was very loosely modeled after), allegedly held a banquet for all the poor people in his land (or beggars, thieves or merchants exploiting his people, depending on the version), then locked them in and set the room on fire. The reason normally given for hosting a banquet before killing them? It would be inhumane to kill them on an empty stomach...
  • Similar to the above story is the folk tale of Archbishop Hatto of Mainz (though the legend wavers between Hatto I and Hatto II) with the further pleasant details that the Archbishop referred to the peasantry as "mice who devoured his grain." The Archbishop himself was, allegedly, subsequently devoured by a horde of actual mice, thus giving the name to the Mouse Tower on the Rhine near Bingen.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • One This Modern World strip shows a post-apocalyptic world where the poor are fattened up on the available food and eaten by the rich.
  • Cartoonist Mike Peters (Mother Goose and Grimm) does editorial cartoons as well. One showed Ronald Reagan declaring that he's "going to see to it that the poor are cared for... that they are warm and secure, clothed and sheltered, and all their needs are taken care of..." Then he picks up the phone and orders "BUILD MORE PRISONS."

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Misspent Youth by Robert Bohl, the Authority (the group-created villain) frequently victimizes the poor.
  • In the Pathfinder Adventure Path "Curse of the Crimson Throne", this is part one of the Big Bad's plan, using a disease known as "blood veil".
  • In the 5th edition rewrite for Ravenloft, Jacqueline Renier is reimagined as a noble woman who uses plagues she cooks up in her laboratory as a way to keep control over the population; The burgeoning middle class were starting to challenge the nobles, but if the nation is stuck under a constant plague, Jacqueline can maintain martial law forever.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • An indirect version The Imperial Guard often performs shanghai-ing on a vast scale by descending on a hive and forcibly recruiting the denizens of the Underhive, simultaneously giving themselves a few million combat-ready warm bodies and lessening the hive's population problems.
    • During the old Rogue Trader edition of 40K, one of the blurbs mentioned that Hive Cities often get population explosions beyond their already teeming masses, so culls are done on the hivers.
  • Waterdeep: Dragon Heist: The noble Cassalanter family plans to hold a magnificent feast for 100 of the city's poorest. It's actually a plot to kill them all with poisoned food and sacrifice their souls to pay off a Deal with the Devil.
  • One adventure in the Zeitgeist adventure path has a final boss who runs on this. A symposium of world leaders ends up forming a psychic gestalt called a "Godmind" which is obsessed with eliminating those with little or nothing to contribute economically. Left to its own devices, it will flatten all but the richest parts of the city with an Energy Weapon, culminating in smashing an orphanage.

    Video Games 
  • Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs combines this trope with Industrialized Evil. Mandus has used the Machine to slaughter the homeless and orphans, and process their meat. Eventually, however, he comes to do the same to the rich.
  • In Armello, the background for DLC character Twiss involves the King deciding to purge the thieves guild in the capital by killing all of the slum dwellers.
  • In Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 2, the Children of Arkham hijack the Gotham mayoral debate and inject both candidates with a drug that eliminates their inhibitions and acts like a form of Truth Serum, which causes Mayor Hill to advocate incinerating the poor (among other things).
  • In Deus Ex, this is part of the plot by the Majestic 12. Using a nanite chimera virus "Grey Death" to infect the world's population, but only providing treatment to the rich and powerful.
  • In Dishonored, this turns out to be the reason that the rat plague was brought to Dunwall in the first place. Lord Regent Hiram Burrows had the plague released to weed out "undesirables," but was unprepared for the breeding capacity of the rats, as well as the capability of people to circumvent the quarantine, and it became much worse than anything Burrows could have anticipated. Empress Jessamine's orders to investigate the Rat Plague would have inevitably found this out, so Burrows had Jessamine assassinated. Corvo can find all of this out from a recording, and the non-lethal method to take down the one responsible for it is to play this recording over the city-wide loudspeakers.
  • While killing poor people isn't their explicit goal, in Pokémon X and Y, Team Flare's ultimate plan is to kill everyone that's not a member of Team Flare. Their membership fee is about 5 million Pokédollars, which as a stand-in for yen is around $50,000 USD.
  • In [PROTOTYPE 2], one side mission centers on learning about and destroying Project New Templar, which turns out to be a plot to create a virus that specifically targets the lower classes, "especially immigrants".
  • RuneScape's Plague quest series culminates in the reveal that the fake plague and quarantine of the West Ardougne slum is to enable a mass sacrifice for the Dark Elves' god. When you confront King Lathas about his part in this, he blames the residents of the slum for being poor and making his kingdom look bad.
  • This turns out to essentially be Ultor's big plan to improve Stilwater in Saints Row 2. Only that the Saints beat them to it by actually killing them. Mind you, the Saints are the player controlled gang.
  • Tooth and Tail:
    • Bellafide's goal in the Civil War is to abolish the lottery system and replace it with a capitalistic meritocracy where 'unproductives' are the ones killed for food first.
    • Archimedes and the Civilized were doing this already: They ran the lottery system, but also rigged it so the Civilized's core members could never be picked, making sure only the poor suffered for their gain.
  • Present in Lucian's backstory in Valkyrie Profile. Lucian was part of a band of thieves that steals for the poor. Consequently, soldiers were sent to kill not only the thieves but also the rest of the slum's dwellers.
  • A Warhammer 40K example found in the Dawn of War expansion Soulstorm, which has background fluff stating that this is official policy on Kaurava. A regular purge of "undesirables", including the poor, is done every century to ensure the city-planet doesn't have too much trouble functioning.

  • In Ansem Retort, Zexion carried this out as governor. Axel's only problem with the plan was that Red XIII kept eating too much of the bodies to get them identified as poor people and keeping him from getting paid the proper amount per person.
  • A Bug strip depicts a bug politician demanding someone end poverty without resorting to evil after he's told that he can't end it by killing homeless people.
  • One Filthy Lies sees Comedic Sociopath Damian preparing to volunteer at the soup kitchen, because "the homeless problem won't solve itself." Joel is at first impressed that Damian is doing something selfless for a change but then notices that he's bringing an awful lot of rat poison...
    Damian: I said, the homeless problem won't solve itself, Joel!
  • A Bob the Angry Flower strip has Bob suggesting this to an incongruously waifish queen, who immediately has it implemented.
    Captain: The poor are dead, sire.
    Queen: And the economy?
    Captain: Completely devastated.
    Queen: How dreadful! Be a dear and fetch us some cocaine!

    Web Original 
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, when Captain Hammer speaks on the opening of a new homeless shelter, he says that he hates the homeless...ness problem. Once he launches into his song "Everyone's a Hero", it becomes abundantly clear that he does, in fact, hate the homeless and anyone else not as "heroic" as himself.
  • Extra Credits' episodes on the Irish Potato Famine does not gloss over the fact that several people in the British government viewed the plague as a chance to "fix" what they saw as "amoral" (Catholic) and "lazy" Irish population.
  • In Hellsing Ultimate Abridged, Alucard comments in his Twitter that his New Years Resolution is to eat less, which is the opposite of last year's resolution: help trim the homeless population.
  • This video by Jreg where he vaguely hints to his solution to homelessness until he finally says it.
  • The Onion:
  • "Planet Earth just Blew Up and there's Nothing I can do" first seems to be playing this straight, with the rich (ranging from Donald Trump-type businessmen and celebrities to Jeff Bezos-type über-billionaires) fleeing earth for greener pastures when a meteor is about to strike, even admitting that they could have built more ships, but then wouldn't have time to make the first one as luxurious as possible. It then takes on an ironic twist, as the top class (the aforementioned über-billionaires) run out of their exclusive diet and has to take the food meant for the lower classes, before eventually resorting to eating the lower classes themselves (again, the lower classes in this case are hotel tycoons and pop stars). It then becomes an inversion, as it turns out the whole "escape earth" thing was just an excuse to get the wealthy capitalists away from the planet so the rest of humanity could redistribute their wealth and rebuild the environment.
  • In Soylent Scrooge, Scrooge and Marley's business is built on killing and eating the poor with direct inspiration from A Modest Proposal.
  • In the episode "The Masquerade" of Tales From the SMP, even among a Cast Full of Rich People, a majority of whom hold disdain towards the poor, Sir Billiam takes the cake by inviting his guests to a masquerade party in order to feed them to The Egg, and justifies the attendees' deaths by calling them only "upper middle class", implying that he believes that death is an effective way to deal with the poor. He then orders Karl's death, explaining that January means Karl's revenue as a Minecraft streamer is very low, despite previously allowing his attendance because he considered streaming a profitable career.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • In the episode "Appointment In Crime Alley", this is Roland Daggett's scheme. He wants to demolish and build on top of the Park Row (or as it's better known, "Crime Alley") district and won't take "no" for an answer, deciding to simply blow up the place regardless of how many people it kills.
    • Nearly as ugly is the plot in "The Forgotten": a slavery ring snatches homeless people off the streets of Gotham City and flies them to some stiflingly hot badlands thousands of miles out west, where they are forced to mine gold under dangerous conditions and are locked in sweat boxes if they offer the least resistance. As one of the captives puts it: "I used to be one of Gotham's unemployed. Now I got a job - lucky me!"
  • The Critic: Jay's mother wants to blast the poor into outer space.
  • In the Family Guy episode "A Picture is Worth 1,000 Bucks," Peter remarks that New York City is a lot nicer ever since Rudy Giuliani secretly had the homeless people killed.
  • Futurama:
    • According to "Space Pilot 3000", the unemployment problem was "solved" in a much more humane fashion — by making it illegal to be unemployed.
      Fry: What if I refuse [to do the job]?
      Leela: Then you'll be fired...
      Fry: Fine!
      Leela: ...out of a cannon, into the sun.
    • In "Insane in the Mainframe", Judge Whitey accidentally fills up all the mental asylums (for non-robots at least) when he declares poverty a mental illness.
    • From "Bender's Big Score":
      Nudar: Like all rich people, we're gonna need weapons to kill poor people.
      Other scammer: In self-defense?
      Nudar: Yes, that too.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the "Treehouse of Horror XVII" short "Married To The Blob," Mayor Quimby and the town of Springfield reach a compromise with Homer, who has gained an insatiable appetite after becoming The Blob: they keep Homer inside a new "homeless shelter," and any vagrants who enter are eaten by him. In a very twisted way, this is supposed to kill two birds with one stone.
    • In "Treehouse of Horror V", Springfield Elementary decides to deal with its overcrowded detention hall by serving them for lunch.
    • In "Sideshow Bob Roberts", a Rush Limbaugh parody mocks the political left for not wanting to arrest the homeless.
    • In "Homer vs. Dignity", Homer wants to get rid of money that he earned from Mr. Burns by humiliating himself:
      Lisa: Well, there's lots of needy kids out there.
      Homer: I see what you're saying. I need to buy a gun!
  • South Park:
    "My dad is the smartest guy in the whole wide world. He has taught me that all poor people are actually things called clods. I wanna live in a world of only gods, so my idea to make America better is put all the poor people into camps. If we get rid of them, there will be nothing but rich people. And there won't be any hunger, poverty, or homeless people. 'Cause they'll all be dead. The end."
    • "Night of the Living Homeless" parodies Zombie Apocalypse tropes. Hordes of homeless beggars arrive in South Park, and the adult residents wind up besieged on a rooftop, with Randy shooting any homeless who come near them and even a neighbor whose house was foreclosed on. To be fair, there was literally something WRONG with those people - they refused to eat (or purchase food) and gained psychic sustenance from the act of receiving money. That could just be the prejudiced Homeless Division manager's opinion, but everyone afflicted would beg for change even if they were staring at a shotgun barrel.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures, "Fields of Honey": Babs tries to get money to buy a theater from Montana Max, claiming to be collecting "to help end poverty on Earth." He is about to slam the door in her face when she explains that the plan is to send all the people without money to the Moon. He gives her a bagful of cash.
  • The "criminalizing poverty" variant was used in The Zeta Project episode "Hunt in the Hub," where anyone who runs out of money is immediately hunted down by the security guards as a vagrant. The creepiest part is that none of the characters seem to find this strange.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): War On The Poor


Let's END Homelessness PERMANE

Jreg does a video making fun of someone dodging around malicious ideas and rhetoric by being vague about them using this trope.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / KillThePoor

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