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Klingon Scientists Get No Respect

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And what kind of Klingon wears glasses, nerd?

"Kurak was a warp field specialist on the Klingon homeworld. I don't think Klingons regard scientists very highly... she always seemed a little defensive."
Dr. Beverly Crusher, Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Suspicions"

The people of the Planet of Hats can adopt any of a thousand different hats as the one that their society values above all others. However, someone has to put on the "hat-maker" hat for the rest of the society to be able to wear their chosen hat. After all, Klingon warriors will need scientists to design their weapons and starships. (The possibility that someone can be both a warrior and a scientist doesn't seem to come up much.) Yet, despite making the Planet of Hats possible, the Klingon scientists get no respect because they aren't on the battlefield swinging a bat'leth.

It's not just a case of where someone takes on a thankless job because Someone Has to Do It, this trope is about culture. The Klingon Scientist is ostracized for having talents outside of what is approved by the culture, even though their talents allow their culture to function. Klingon scientists might even agree with Klingon values — although their combination of vital importance and low social status would certainly lead to Jade-Colored Glasses.


This trope can be expressed a lot of ways. A warrior culture may disdain the blacksmiths who make their weapons. A society of pure thinkers may consider all engineers to be menial laborers putting their high thoughts to work. A culture of traders may scoff at the farmers and artisans who make the goods that they buy and sell. A people of artists could see those who produce their art materials as unskilled proles. A race of clergy may look down on the builders of their houses of worship. And yes, a race of scientists could even look down on the brutish military who keep their society safe. The low-status communities in question might despise the mainstream right back, but, again, they might not, and all of them probably need people who get rid of trash and keep the environment clean. If this trope is part of An Aesop, then Vetinari Job Security will kick in when the oppressed Hat-Maker takes a holiday.


A Fantastic Caste System may play this straight or avert it, depending on ideology. Some more idealistic caste systems value (or claim to value) anyone who devotedly fulfills their ordained role, whether that means being a great artist or a great street-sweeper — just don't try to be something you're not. Others clearly place the castes in a hierarchy: not only are warriors in general better than merchants, the worst warrior is better than the best merchant, simply by lucky accident of birth.

Compare to Hard on Soft Science, where certain fields of study are mocked by more "serious" areas that may very well be connected or derived from them. Compare and contrast Cultural Rebel.

In the real world, this is fairly common, especially in premodern times. Universities, for example, were started largely with the aim of studying theology, with the natural sciences being a vaguely complementary supplement. Craftsmen were seen as inferior to farmers, as unlike farmers they merely "reworked" what farmers produced. Merchants were largely considered inferior to everyone since they were seen as producing nothing and making profit. This stigma was, in fact, one barrier to industrialization in many places, since the classes with the most potential to produce productivity gains were socially discouraged. While this has subsided, to a large extent, it is still enough to say that every society has had at least one job that is looked down upon by the culture at large while still being entirely necessary for that society to function.


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    Star Trek 
Despite being the Trope Namers, Klingons are rarely portrayed this way. While they're a Proud Warrior Race, they recognize the value of different types of work to their society. Some Klingons make an effort to further avert this, or simply to incorporate the concepts that underlie Klingon society, by describing what they do in battle-like terms:
  • In "Day Of The Dove," Kang introduces Mara as his "Science Officer" and it's clear that it's a respected position. Alas, she doesn't get to do much Science Officering during that episode.
  • In one episode of DS9 we heard a snippet of a Klingon science vessel's log where the captain spoke of winning battles against ignorance, and bringing home vast spoils in the form of new knowledge.
  • In the DS9 episode "By Inferno's Light", Worf is forced to fight several Jem'Hadar in a row, all brutal hand-to-hand fights to the death. Bashir treats his injuries between each fight as best as he can, and Martok vows to write songs about both Worf's combat prowess and Bashir, "the healer who bound the warrior's wounds so he could fight again!"
  • Worf's grandfather (also named Worf), seen in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, was a lawyer. Given the Common Law system of trials is known as the adversarial system, this parallels combat quite well. According to the Expanded Universe he gained numerous ranks and honors through his legal acumen. (He's a colonel in the film; novels mention he attained the rank of General through his legal kickassery.)
    • The DS9 Episode "Rules of Engagement" features another Klingon lawyer, Ch'Pok, who explicitly compares the court to a battlefield.
  • Membership in the staff of a Klingon Great House also seems to convey a certain measure of prestige and respect; Worf's childhood nurse once reflects sadly, but a bit boastfully, on how she was a servant of a proud and strong family, and a Klingon woman vying for control over her house seems to take the advice of her majordomo seriously (he in turn being a social intermediary between her and others, and a general face for the House's standing).
  • In the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "The Augments" a Klingon doctor and medical researcher finds a cure for a bioweapon that is being used dishonorably by his superior. He considers himself being executed for delivering the cure to be equivalent to a warrior sacrificing himself to win a great battle. The idea seems to make him very happy.
  • The video game Birth of the Federation indicates that Klingon blacksmiths are held in high regard, as without weapons, there is no war.
  • DS9 features a Klingon restaurant. The owner appreciates a patron who'll fight him (verbally) to get the freshest ingredients. He'll also play the concertina at patrons. Aggressively.
  • In John M. Ford's pre-TNG Star Trek novel The Final Reflection, the main character, a Klingon captain called Krenn, obviously respects his scientist first officer and describes Sciences as "an honourable career" to a young Spock while on a diplomatic mission to Earth. This is influenced by the Original Series Klingons' portrayal as a hostile authoritarian culture somewhat resembling the old USSR — and the USSR had its own successes in science.
  • The Star Trek: Enterprise Relaunch has a Klingon doctor who manages to avoid this by virtue of being big and scary even by Klingon standards. And it helps his husband is the Fleet Admiral.

In fact, it's common for humans in Star Trek to expect Klingons to act this way - often getting disabused of the notion:

  • Deep Space Nine gave us a (villainous) Klingon Lawyer, who saw the court as his battlefield, and was apparently well regarded for it, as he tells Sisko when Sisko attempts to invoke the trope to rile him up.
  • B'Elanna Torres, the half-Klingon main character on Star Trek: Voyager, is portrayed as being torn between her two cultures. As a Starfleet engineer, she is quite respected. Problem is that she is half-Klingon, and her focus as a Starfleet officer leads her to being dishonored for not being a Klingon ANYTHING. By not embracing her Klingon heritage and bloodline, she risks sending both herself and her mother to Gre'Thor (Klingon Hell). Sins of the Child, as they put it. So while she gets respect for being a Klingon Engineer by Starfleet, she gets no respect by Klingons for not being Klingon. But late in the series a Klingon captain tells her that as the ship's engineer she keeps it in battle ready condition, so every battle the ship has ever won is her victory.
  • In the Day of Honour novel Treaty's Law, a farming planet was disputed between Klingon and human colonists. As part of the Organian Peace Treaty, it was agreed that the two groups would compete and whoever got the best harvest would win the planet. The humans were complacent because of this trope, assuming war-obsessed Klingons would be poor farmers, but it turns out that farmers are actually highly respected in Klingon society and they ended up winning.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Suspicions" has the Klingon scientist Kurak, mentioned in the page quote. Dr. Crusher theorizes that her status as "not a people person" is due to being mistreated and disrespected by her own people, though she admits that this is just a guess.
  • In the first Captain's Table novel, Kirk says that the phrase "Klingon Research Facility" causes him to have the mental image of a Klingon warrior trying to split the atom with a bat'leth.

There are a couple of genuine examples, though, Depending on the Writer:

  • Star Trek: Enterprise "Judgment" has a Klingon Lawyer represent Captain Archer, and he laments how the Warrior Caste is bullying the rest of the population. He claims that this is a fairly recent trend. How recent exactly is unknown though, as his father was a teacher and his mother a biologist, and both were seemingly respected for it, but Klingons are long-lived. An implication given is that Klingon society goes through phases where they start leaning towards the easiest claim to fame; kill anything, strong or weak, and go brag about it at the bar. The lawyer resolves to be a voice to pull society back from that mindset at the end of the episode.
  • In "Blood Oath", Kor, the first-ever Klingon from TOS's "Errand of Mercy", complains about how the old ways are dying, using the aforementioned Klingon restaurant serving aliens as a specific example.
  • In one novel, a Klingon refugee mentions that he had served a tour of duty in the Klingon Navy as a drafted engineer, but all battle glory earned on his ship (against pirates, not the Federation) tended to be assigned to the officers and those who worked directly with the weapons systems. And G'Dath was a really good engineer — the book is about him inventing a drive system the size of a basketball so powerful that if it had been in use at the time of Star Trek: Voyager, they would have gotten back from the Delta Quadrant in a matter of hours. He was eventually forced to turn over the device and all the plans to the Organians to keep his drive from destabilizing the balance of power.
  • In The IDIC Epidemic, a Klingon engineer is in a weird mix of "working for the Empire" and "exiled for being a mere nerd." He is naturally part of the cure for said epidemic.
  • This comes up all the time in the Star Trek: Klingon Empire novel series. Among the crew of the IKS Gorkon, we find a doctor who is reviled by much of their society for recognizing that warriors without missing limbs and debilitating scars are more effective than those with them. Her suggestion of an artificial limb for her captain is outright refused (he's not a Borg, after all) and the compromise of an arm transplant from his dead father, while accepted by the captain, is looked at with horror by others. We also have the chief engineer (Kurak, referenced in the page quote), forced into the military by her family over her objections that designing better ships and weapons for the military is a better use of her talents. She's told that if she refuses to serve, she will be discommendated, which would ban her from working on those designs anyway. One novel also features another Klingon engineer, who's absolutely terrible at being a warrior (or tough in any way). However, he's a capable engineer, although the others sneer at his constant attempts at treating every engineering problem as a foe to be defeated.
  • Star Trek Online:
    • There's a DOFF mission you can choose as part of the KDF where a medical member of your crew wants to get better medical equipment. Getting a Critical Success on it lets to having another officer wrestle him and put him out of action to shut him up.
    • In game, the chief engineer of the Bortasqu', Tarol, gripes that engineers and the like do all the hard work and the warriors get the credit. This is exemplified in "House Pegh" when B'Eler, a member of said house, is able to figure out a way to turn Omega molecules against the Iconian T'Ket, allowing Kahless to wound it. However, Kahless gets all of the credit, despite the fact that he spent the entire battle at that point not even scratching the Iconian and ended up getting needlessly killed.

Non-Klingon alien species in Star Trek, however, tend to play this trope straight much more often:

  • The Ferengi:
    • Nog notes that "good" Ferengi go into business.
    • Ferengi scientist Dr. Reyga, from Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Suspicions", wished to be taken seriously by the scientific community and had to fight against his own people's mindset. He invents "Metaphasic shielding" and is then murdered. Initially, only Dr. Crusher and a small team of visiting alien scientists realize just how valuable his discovery was. Later Dr. Crusher uses the same metaphasic shields to escape and later defeat the Borg... by hiding in the corona of a star.
    • On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, another Ferengi, Rom, was horrible at business but a skilled engineer and handyman. Nog cites this as part of the reason he wants to join Starfleet. Seeing the scorn his father went through for not making a profit, despite his skill with machinery, gives Nog the inspiration to sacrifice some of his Ferengi beliefs as he strives towards, and succeeds at, becoming the first Ferengi in Starfleet. He may not make much profit for himself, but he learns to adapt his cultural upbringing (trying to get people what they want, by whatever means available) to the Federation's more open-minded ideology, becoming a talented quartermaster and creating unofficial channels when the official ones aren't fast enough to keep the ship he's serving aboard fully supplied and combat-ready. He does this so well that it suggests that had he chosen a more conventional career for a Ferengi, he would have been able to do that quite well. However, Starfleet is clearly his destiny: In one potential future, he's shown to be a respected captain. Nog's decision to pursue a Starfleet career also helps Rom realize his full potential; over the course of the series Rom grows a spine (he seems to be inspired by his son's example), and he eventually quits his job at the bar and becomes a station engineer, where he quickly gains respect from both the Bajorans and Starfleet for his skill. This eventually culminates in Rom succeeding Zek as the Grand Nagus of the Ferengi Alliance in the Grand Finale.
    • In Star Trek Online, Nog's example inspired a lot more Ferengi to join Starfleet. It almost got Ferenginar into the Federation, but certain groups didn't like that idea.
    • Averted with Leck, a Ferengi "Eliminator" (read: assassin-for-hire, he "eliminates competition") who's in it for the killing and combat, not the profit. Other Ferengi are too afraid of him to show any disrespect.
    • In a way, any Ferengi in military service, either in Starfleet, their own forces, or otherwise, would seem to be this. Almost by definition, money invested in a military is a profitless endeavor, a necessary sunk cost with little to no expected return. However, in the 19th century, the British Empire rose to prominence because they had the world's largest fleet ready and able to protect merchant ships and be used as a show of force for other nations to toe the line as far as trade was concerned. Commodore Perry's famous visit to Japan convinced a reclusive nation to open their markets to American trade. It would make sense for the Ferengi to have a strong military force on hand to make sure their own merchants were not harassed unduly. Plus if worse came to worst, it's helpful to remember that amateurs study tactics, while professionals study logistics, and who would know more about logistics than the Ferengi?
  • Star Trek: Voyager has the Hirogen. In their culture, if you're not a hunter, you're nobody. In this case it's partially deconstructed by showing that it's directly detrimental to their society. The Hirogen used to be far more technologically advanced than they are now and are steadily devolving as a result of their nomadic, hunter-focused lifestyle.
    • Zig-zags into partially reconstructed/justified when a later episode introduces a Hirogen holodeck technician, denounced by the others as "cowardly", who says he would've been a warrior had Voyager not given them holodeck technology three years ago, and strongly implies there was no such thing as a Hirogen technician before that.
    • In the original series episode "Elaan of Troyus," Elaan contemptuously dismisses engineering as a "menial" occupation, much to Scotty's irritation.
    • Happens to humans too, via cultural shift. The season 1 episode "The Neutral Zone" has a group of humans who were frozen get thawed out, one of them being a financier. He has an especially hard time adjusting to his new life compared to the others, reason being that with Earth moving from a capitalistic to post-scarcity society means that his profession is of little interest to people outside of historians. One of the novels has him find a niche as an ambassador to the Ferengi, which is the best of both worlds: the Federation respect him as a diplomat, and the Ferengi respect him as a shrewd man of business.
  • The Talarians in the Star Trek: Typhon Pact series.
    • Talarian genders have very different social roles, and are liable to underplay the importance of the other gender's work. Given that politics and leadership is a male role, this is most notable and extreme when the male government neglects their people's feminine sphere, leading to unrest in one novella. The Gorn seem to have shades of the same problem; emphasizing the warrior component of their culture and disregarding the equally important non-military aspects. In their case, rather than a gender division it's a matter of caste; the Technologist caste appears to be looked down on by the warriors. As an interesting extension of the idea, the Political caste seems to have such fear of the warriors' tendency to promote themselves above other Gorn that they've deliberately undercut their power by giving them only a single breeding world.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Delicious in Dungeon, dwarves value blacksmithing and mining above all other professions. Senshi's seen as an oddball at best for eschewing those in favor of hunting, cooking and farming.
  • The head of the combined Demon army in Maoyu, the Demon Queen, is an excellent strategist and a master of logistics, as well as an knowledgeable economist and a persuasive diplomat. Unfortunately for her, the Demon tribes are mostly Proud Warrior Races and she's thought of as one of the weakest Demon Kings ever. Even though she did acquire the job in the traditional manner.
  • The fourth squad of soul-reapers in Bleach are in some ways the most essential, since they heal the wounds the other soul-reapers incur through constant fighting. They are even the ones in charge of washing uniforms, resource logistics and maintenance of infrastructures. However, because they are usually not very skilled at combat, other squads tend to pick on them. This trend is averted with their Captain, who can make even squad 11 settle down just by giving them a harsh glare. Turns out that she was the original Kenpachi, meaning she was universally recognized as the most dangerous Shinigami in existence, and the founder of the squad 11.
  • Averted in Super Dimension Fortress Macross: the Zentraedi are a Proud Warrior Race to the point that warfare is literally the only thing they ever do, so one would think that any non-fighter among them would get this by default. Nonetheless, they seem to hold their noncombatant strategists in high regard, and even the highest-ranking commanders are usually shown listening intently to what their adviser has to say. However, the Zentraedi manage to avoid the whole deal with scientists/engineers by having all their hardware built by a perpetually functioning, self maintaining satellite factory left behind by the ancestral race who created them, and having virtually no advancement in tech levels for centuries at all.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Hayato Maeda/Chumley Huffington is going to Duel Academia to learn how to be a card designer, which is an important role since they're the ones maintaining the development of the game. Nevertheless, he's in Osiris Red (making him a social pariah by default), and even was held back a year, all because he himself isn't a very good duelist. Granted, part of it seems to be more his attitude than anything else and one does need to have an understanding of the rules to design cards.
    • Noticeable in the fiftieth episode as he wins a card designer contest with his card "Ayers Rock Sunrise." He needs to undergo one more test against his professor. He goes all out and uses his own card no less. While he does not win (despite being pretty darn close to), he does go with his professor's blessing since the whole point was to test his mettle. He's more confident when we see him in future episodes working with Pegasus.
  • It's mentioned in My Hero Academia that the prevalence of superheroes has lead to ordinary cops getting a bum rap. While this is more justified than most examples — legally, cops can't use their powers even if they have them and are consequently useless in most villain takedowns — it's easy to forget that the cops are still the ones responsible for actually enforcing the law and deciding which cases do or do not require superhero intervention. For the record, All Might, the world's greatest hero, doesn't share this sentiment. In the first episode he tells Midoriya that becoming a police officer is an admirable path to take, and that no matter what the public thinks they're just as noble and trustworthy as anyone in the hero community.
  • In Kino's Journey, one country Kino visits is focused on increasing their crop yields to the exclusion of all else, and judge their citizens by how well they contribute to that goal. One old man who studied in another country and learned about many things unrelated to farming ends up being ostracized, as does his protege when she works on making an airplane. Luckily, the town comes around after seeing the airplane fly.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • On the city-plane of Ravnica, there are ten guilds that serve various functions in the city such as law enforcement, scientific research and innovation, banking, and so on. One guild, the Golgari Swarm, are basically the recyclers of the world, using their knowledge over life and death to clean up messes, recycle organic waste and provide food to the lower classes of Ravnica. However, they are generally shunned and relegated to the plane's sewers, because no-one wants to admit the necessity of a group of icky zombie elf plant monsters led by liches and Necromancers.
    • Subverted (and lampshaded) by the Mardu Horde in the original timeline of Tarkir. A tribe of faux-mongolian raiders, they take pride on their lack of attachment to conquered lands and self-sufficiency, but still see the necessity of their shepherds and their smiths, who have a measure of social respect within the clans.

    Comic Books 
  • Paperinik New Adventures examples:
    • Subverted with the Evronians: when we first see Evronian scientists general Zondag treats them with utter contempt, and the scientists' leader Zoster reciprocates in kind, but they later show they, and the Evronian society in general, actually have a deep respect for the other's abilities (to the point that Evronian cruisers have both powerful weapons and large labs), they simply believe that their own specialty is more important.
    • Played straight by the two different Coronian governments seen:
      • Under the Horde the scientists were given some grudging respect because Moldrock was intelligent enough to understand they made all their weapons and the spaceships they needed to conquer the universe, but still treated them as second-class citizens due their inability to fight. They were completely caught by surprise when the scientists not only dared to revolt but won in ten minutes, as they just didn't expect anyone to come up with ways to take down and contain Moldrock.
      • Under the queens that succeeded Moldrock the scientists have less respect than you'd expect them after they took down Moldrock and then stood down from power. This is actually justified: the queens have extremely powerful psychic powers and the will to keep them in check and rule fairly and peacefully, and everyone recognize that anyone being selected for the role is among Corona's finest.
  • Averted with the Kree from Marvel Comics. Despite being a very militaristic society, they are also one of the most technologically advanced races in the Marvel Universe to the point of having an organic super computer, the Supreme Intelligence, as their leader.
  • Annihilation: Super-Skrull: One of the assistants Kl'rt acquires during the course of the series is a Skrull mechanic whose job was to keep the Skrull fighter planes maintained. He betrays the Super-Skrull and his own race, because as a lowly grease monkey he never got any appreciation or respect (and also, the Super-Skrull's kind of a total arsehole). Then he found out the hard way that double-crossing the Super-Skrull is a very bad idea.
  • Depending on the Writer and continunity, Kryptonians, being a Proud Scholar Race, are sometimes a bit contemptous of the Guilds other than Science Guild. In the third version of post-Crisis Kara's origin, Zor-El feels that, as a Ranger, he's not as appreciated as scientists like his brother Jor-El and wife Allura. And in World of Krypton (2022), General Zod claims Jor-El has contempt for the Military Guild that keeps the planet safe and allows him to research the threat to it (although, since this is General Zod, it's likely Jor-El's problem is more with turning Krypton into a Police State.)

    Fan Works 
  • In Racer and the Geek, ponies who use guns without being part of any official state group (military or police) are viewed by the general public with roughly the same distaste as serial killers.
  • Eugenesis gives us a brief glimpse of a Decepticon's idea of a medical experimentation, where the "subject" is nailed to the operating table and drugged out of their mind beforehand. Even the most thuggish Decepticons are horrified by this twenty years on, so it's no wonder their scientists aren't respected. What makes it worse is that Sygnet, one of the higher profile Decepticon scientists still alive, joined to 'cons to get respect.
  • The Lunar Rebellion: The pegasi are almost exclusively a warrior culture — there is effectively no distinction between their military, their government and their day-to-day society, military and martial success is seen as the pinnacle of personal and civil achievement, and their governing body, the Ephorate, is made of the leaders of their society's powerful military clans. The ephor Swift Blade, rather than specializing in a form of combat, is skilled in strategy and logistics and plays a vital role in ensuring the Pegasopolian armies are reliably supplied and fed. His role is absolutely necessary for keeping the pegasi's war effort from collapsing, but since it doesn't involve actual fighting the other ephors uniformly look down on him and don't consider a peer worthy of respect.
  • War and Peace in Mind: Despite having the same Technopath power as their founder, Royal Pain, and being integral in protecting their Academy of Evil from detection and attack, the student Technopaths of the Academy get very little respect from their villain peers. Which makes it easy for Warren to convert them during The Infiltration.
  • In Earth's Alien History, a look at Klingon culture shows that, unless they work directly for the military, Klingon scientists and any others who aren't warriors (farmers, artists, industrial workers, etc.) are marginalized and forced to accept lower standards of living.
  • In Mythos Effect, Turian soldiers are expected to live and die by the book, sticking to century-old military dogmas; lateral thinking is actively discouraged. Also, Turian society has very little respect for the Volus, who administer their economy and keep it functioning. Both of these instances are biting them in the ass.
  • In the Mass Effect story series Of Sheep and Battle Chicken, krogan warlord Ganar Okeer is written as such. In this continuity, he is ancient to the extreme, well over 7,000 years old and the last known survivor of the Krogan Empire before war and the Genophage caused it's collapse. In a case of the Klingon Scientist striking back, though, he saw that the Krogan had become too reliant on their high birthrate to replace casualties and were throwing themselves too recklessly into wars they couldn't win... so he helped create the Genophage to instill the value that Krogan lives should be precious, a lesson that the Krogan are still learning millennia later. It comes to full fruition when he introduces Shepard to his crowning achievement, Grunt, who is not only genetically engineered to be the perfect Krogan from Okeer's perspective, but emits an airborne pathogen that will interact with the Genophage in any Krogan Grunt encounters and then spread; it does not affect the reduced birthrate, but makes it far less traumatic and changes the gene structure of the surviving offspring to prioritize intelligence and other traits. He leaves it in Shepard's hands with a Sadistic Choice: Either keep Grunt asleep in his statis tube or destroy him and continue to watch the Krogan walk a path to self destruction, or release him and eventually subject the entire Krogan race to genetic manipulation on an unheard-of scale to make them the race a millennia-old extremist would have them become. In short, because science was not respected by his race, his drove his race to the brink of extinction then held out a half-treatment that would force them to respect it.

    Films — Animation 
  • Monsters University: While MU does offer other majors besides scaring, and we meet plenty of non-scarers, scaring is still considered the most prestigious career of all of them. Thus, it's a pretty harsh blow to tell Mike that he's simply not cut out for scaring. It's like telling him he shouldn't exist. It is also hypocritical, since the whole point of scaring is to turn screams into energy, which does not work without technology created by non-scarers.
    Dean Hardscrabble: Scariness is the true measure of a monster. If you're not scary, then what kind of a monster are you?

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Gattaca, those who were created with optimization (known as valids) were treated well, and those who were born naturally (known as invalids) were treated as second-class citizens. They used DNA testing just about everywhere, to make sure an invalid didn't slip through.
  • Subverted and played straight in The General; when Johnnie tries to sign up for the army, he is rejected because he is far more useful to the war effort as a train engineer than a soldier. However no-one tells him this, and he is unable to convince his girlfriend's family that he wasn't simply a coward, so she refuses to see him until he's in uniform.
  • In 300 Leonidas, while looking over the troops sent by their allies, asks some of them their professions. They answer variously that they are craftsmen or farmers. Then he asks his own men "What is your profession!" and they all raise their spears and yell. In real life, most Classical Greek soldiers were conscripts or volunteers who went back to their old lives after the war was over, while in Sparta men were either soldiers or slaves.
  • Comes up in Get Smart. The techs of CONTROL who come up with the Shoe Phone gadgets are frequently bullied by the agents. Subverted with Max himself: Larabee and Agent 91 are both friendly with him, and Agent 23 shows him a great deal of respect (at least until it's revealed that he's The Mole). 99 doesn't respect him at first, but not because he's an analyst. It's simply because he's The Ditz bordering on Idiot Hero, and it takes her time to warm up to him personally.

  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): The Golgari are a warrior culture, who are quite dependent on the magic-using "Shaper" caste for the portal gates that they use to access the Dungeon, but they nonetheless consider the Shapers to be the lowest of them. This may originate from the fact that magic didn't really exist until the Dungeon came into being, and the Golgari culture is older than that, so magic is considered to be a foreign and intruding force.
  • Inverted by the Aiel in Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series. They are a warrior society, with their blacksmiths being the people who make their society work. Instead of being ridiculed, the blacksmiths are held in high regard and are protected in battle. When raiding other Aiel septs, harming a blacksmith is unheard of and costs the assailant much honor. Blacksmiths are also the last to pick up arms in battle with outsiders even though they know how to fight. They also cannot be made gai'shain (a form of indentured servitude prisoners of war must perform over a year and a day) given the great regard which the Aiel have for them.
  • Known Space: The Kzinti are a species of felinoid who are NOT naturally gregarious, and can only remain banded together in a civilized state by being obsessed with status and rank (and frequent duels to the death). The shlubs who do whatever work can't be done by slave races are at the absolute bottom of the totem pole. Telepaths are an odd case. On one hand, they are as remote from the perfect warrior image as possible: weak, neurotic, with matted fur. On the other hand, everybody recognizes their high value for the society. In the end they are tolerated, they get away with behaviour that would cost another Kzin his life (or at least his ears), but they are not promoted to higher positions. Low-status Kzinti don't even have names, and are instead referred to by their job title, rank, or MOS. Higher-caste Kzin get a partial name ("Chuft-Captain"), and actual nobility get the honor of having a name that's exclusively theirs with no reference to their job. No explicit word on how they distinguish between the guys on different shifts/watches who perform the same job. Oddly enough, the Patriarch of Kzin is always called that or "The Patriarch", which would seem to be a rank/job title.
  • John Varley: in the Eight Worlds series, surgeon is considered a menial job and teacher the most venerated one. There are explicit references to the way people talk about grease monkeys in our own culture.
  • Isaac Asimov:
    • The Naked Sun takes place on a world where people have become repulsed by the idea of physical contact with another person, to the point that even being in the same room as another human being is Squicky. They've also nearly perfected the science of growing test tube babies. Despite the fact that gestating and raising babies is absolutely essential to their society in the most literal way possible, it is also considered a repugnant occupation.
    • In Robots and Empire, it is mentioned that the Spacer society treats surgeons that way. The Spacers are proud of their life expectancy, which can be up to four centuries, but tolerate absolutely no reminder that their bodies can require any maintenance or prosthetics during that time. For people to take up the job, they must be paid more than presidents.
    • "Strikebreaker": The Ragusnik family, who operate the sanitation machines for their entire planetoid, are treated as pariahs. Their job is obviously vital; when the head Ragusnik goes on strike, demanding to be accepted as a part of normal society, the society nearly collapses, until a visiting Outworlder decides to learn how to be a Ragusnik themselves.
  • Played with in Animorphs: Andalites have a society where males are all supposed to be warriors, but female scientists and artists seem to be highly respected too. There are problems for those like Aldrea who want to step outside their gender's role, but a few years into the war there's an idea that a good warrior should also have rounded skills, and by the main events of the series there are a few female military cadets as well. Part of what brings about this change is the invention and wide implementation of morphing technology. Traditionally, males have larger tail blades, the primary Andalite warrior weapon, so it wasn't feasible for women to be in combat. However, with the advent of morphing technology (and better weapons and spaceships, too), tail blades aren't the only weapon, or even the most practical, paving the way for females to become more accepted as warriors.
  • Subverted by the Canim in Codex Alera. The Warriors and Ritualists are prone to infighting with each other, not over this or over superiority, but over who can better serve the interests of the Makers — the farmers, mothers, artisans, cooks... basically everyone who isn't an honor-bound warrior or powerful ritualist.
  • The western Angarak kingdoms of David Eddings' The Belgariad are descended from the people of the ancient city Cthol Mishrak. When Torak sent them to West, he divided them up among caste lines. The Murgos are descended from the upper class, in fact the word "Murgo" is Old Angarak for "warrior/nobleman". As such, they have no idea how to do anything but fight, and consider it beneath their dignity to do anything else anyway, and when they're separated from the craftsmen (Nadraks) and peasants (Thulls) they almost starve to death until they discover the concept of slavery. In Cthol Murgos, every Murgo man is a soldier, every Murgo woman is a baby factory, and everyone else is A. not an Angarak, and B. a slave.
  • Subverted in Vorkosigan Saga. While soldiering is the most honored profession on Barrayar, the only reason technology is low is because of a natural disaster and they are racing to catch up fast. The Imperial Military Hospital (ImpMil) is proverbial on Barrayar and has won the respect of outsiders as well.
  • Shadows of the Apt:
    • This was the case in the Bad Old Days, where the Beetle-kin and several other kinden were enslaved by the magic-using Moth-kin and others to perform the menial labor of empire. Then the Beetles developed the crossbow. Now the world is divided between the "Apt" peoples who have a natural facility with technology; and the "Inapt" peoples, many of whom could literally not use a crossbow to save their own lives. Needless to say the Apt are doing quite well for themselves, having inverted the trope completely by the start of the series.
    • This continues to be played straight by the Wasps, however, who despite being Apt believe that the proper place of a Wasp male is the battlefield, with every other profession beneath their dignity and relegated to the slaves and the lesser races (everyone who isn’t a Wasp). This includes the engineers responsible for overseeing their ubiquitous war engines. However, the rank-and-file make an exception for the Mercy’s Daughters, an order of battlefield nurses who aid the injured and comfort the dying, for obvious reasons. The officers don’t like them, but know that driving them off will cause their troops to mutiny.
  • In the Circle of Magic novel Shatterglass, the city of Tharios is run on a strict class system. Prathmuni are people who clean the streets, handle the dead and perform other unclean tasks; yaskedasi are performers and entertainers that, despite running an extremely profitable tourist district, are just barely above prathmun in rank. The plot follows a number of yaskedasi murders and the headaches involved in working in the class system; when the killer is revealed to be one of the prathmun, the prathmuni go underground to avoid being massacred. With no one to maintain Tharios's reputation of being clean, the rulers are forced to parley with the prathmuni.
  • In the Star Wars Legends novel Starfighters of Adumar, the titular Adumari are utterly obsessed with starfighter pilots, putting them so high up in their society's social ladder in Adumari society that both the New Republic and Empire decide that the best diplomatic force to send are their top Ace Pilots. A prominent example is supporting character Cheriss ke Hanadi: She was an indentured servant forced to labor in factories, and only managed to escape by becoming so renowned as a duelist she was able to make her living prize-fighting. However, because of a physical disability (severe vertigo) that prevented her from being able to fly, she was still regarded as a second-class citizen at best in Adumari society.
    • Star Wars Legends has another example with the Jedi Service Corps. These are made up of Force Sensitives who were brought into the Order as infants, but for one reason or another, were not suited to becoming "warrior class" Jedi. They are put to work exploring new hyperspace routes (Exploration Corps), teaching underprivileged children, running orphanages, and doing scholarly work (Education Corps), acting as the Order's medics and going into natural disasters and plague outbreaks as healers (Medical Corps), or terraforming new colony worlds, restoring worlds blighted by disaster and war, or growing crops to feed the Order and relieve famines (Agricultural Corps). Yet, while these positions are called "valuable contributors" on paper, the rank and file Jedi see the Corps as a humiliating life-long punishment and a sign of failure and disgrace with the people in the Corps as washouts and screw-ups.
  • In The Demon Cycle , the Krasians are a militant theocracy with a highly stratified society that works like this. Dama (priests), Dama'ting (priestesses) and Sharum (warriors) hold positions of high honor in their culture; Khaffit (civilian men) and Dal'ting (commoner women), who actually handle most of the physical and economic infrastructure, are held in contempt. As the series goes on, however, the Krasians start (very slowly) loosening up through contact with other cultures.
  • In the Humanx Commonwealth series, the AAnn are Machiavellian reptilian aliens whose artistic community, the Tier of Ssaiinn, are considered outcasts and are not spoken of. However, their work is spectacular and highly prized, even among the AAnn.
  • The Stormlight Archive:
    • The Vorin religion teaches that the afterlife is a massive war to reclaim Heaven, so the highest Calling is to be a soldier. But of course, soldiers need food and supplies, so the priests are quick to assure everyone that farmers are almost as honorable as soldiers. Actual scientists are a bit of an oddity; the only men who are allowed to learn sciences are ardents, slave-priests exempt from the normal gender rules. While the Vorin do appreciate what their ardents and women provide, there is a very strong focus on sciences that can be applied to warfare.
    • The Shin people are humble pacifists, so warriors — who exist only to destroy, in their philosophy — are treated like chattel and very poorly regarded.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: The Ironborn are a culture of faux-Norse warriors and raiders who pride themselves on taking everything they need by force rather than producing it themselves or buying it — the motto of their ruling house is outright "We Do not Sow". This means that everyone who isn't a warrior or a reaver is looked down on in their society, including both the large population of thralls that grows their food and mines the iron that makes up their weapons and the farming societies they raid, despite the fact that Ironborn society is utterly dependent on these two groups in order to keep itself going. Fishermen are the sole exception, considered upstanding Ironborn presumably since they still make a living at sea. This also extends to Lord Rodrick Harlaw, nicknamed the Reader, an Ironborn lord more concerned with reading and collecting books than pillaging. He's looked down on by most other lords because of this, except for a few aware of how valuable his knowledge and advice can be.
  • The Cloak Society is about a supervillain group where having a power gets you ranked as an "Alpha" or "Beta", while non-powered members are "Unibands", the lowest class. Gage, like his father before him, is a scientific genius who makes and maintains all of Cloak's equipment, but is still a Uniband who can only dream of joining the group's leading council. Alex points out how ridiculous this is:
    Alex: Gage, look around you. There are weapons in this base that are decades ahead of anything people in the outside world have dreamed of. Same with our security system. And with our computers. And you are twelve years old. If that's not a superpower, I don't know what is.
  • Temeraire: Discussed by Perscitia, who's intelligent enough to reinvent major mathematical theorems from first principles but, unlike almost all other dragons, refuses to fight, and was ostracized by other dragons for it. The dragon Temeraire, who loves fighting but is also something of a Genius Bruiser, reassures her that her own contributions are no less valuable, so she becomes a valuable tactician and eventual Member of Parliament to the dragons.
  • The Piers Anthony trilogy Battle Circle is set in a post-apocalypse where brave nomads roam the wastes armed with simple melee weapons (of advanced manufacture), dueling each other for resources and women. Meanwhile, a pacifist group, known only as "Crazies" don't wield weapons and periodically restock shelters and storehouses (including with the standard weapons) - except if the locals have been violating the code of behaviour (for example, by fighting outside of a formal battle circle). The nomads regard the Crazies as beneath notice, despite the nomad lifestyle depending entirely upon the support of the Crazies (and whoever supplies them).
  • In Always Coming Home, the people of the Valley are highly suspicious toward Millers, which includes all people working with advanced machinery and electricity. These people also don’t have a House assigned to them as a group, which means no one protecting them in case of a screw up.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Farscape has a few examples. Peacekeepers look down on "techs" as inferior because they spend their time fixing the ships and weapons instead of fighting with them. In one episode a planet called Litagara is featured, which is run by lawyers. The 5% of the population that aren't lawyers are treated as second-class citizens.
  • The Big Bang Theory has a running joke about Wolowitz being the only non-Ph.D. in the group. In general, those that think (most prominently Sheldon) ridicule those that do (most prominently Wolowitz). Other characters minor and major have similar dynamics, such as Leonard's practical hypothesis testing being disdained by his own mother, a clinical neurologist which by definition requires others to test her hypotheses (and who despite focusing her work on children is an utterly incompetent parent).
  • Todd the Wraith from Stargate Atlantis, who is more akin to a scientist. Unlike other Wraith, he recognizes that foolishly gorging on human worlds means their food supply runs out faster and only leads to in-fighting between the Hives. In the last season, Todd even accepts the Atlantis team's help to find a way to rid his people of their dependency on having to feed, being one of the few Wraith to admit that it is a weakness that's impeding their growth as a species. There is a reason why Todd is over 10,000 years old. That said, he is backstabbed by his own people numerous times, either directly or indirectly. In a Bad Future episode, he even performs a Heroic Sacrifice with Ronon to blow up one of Michael's cloning factories.
  • The Minbari in Babylon 5 have the Religious and Warrior castes, which feature prominently in the story, and the barely-seen and almost never-mentioned Worker caste that makes the work of the other two castes possible. The Worker caste does become critical when Delenn breaks the ruling Grey Council, delivering "The Reason You Suck" Speech to both her own Religious caste and the Warriors...then reforming the Council with the Workers in a 5:2:2 majority to keep the other two castes in check (and ending a civil war in the process). Canon states that prior to Valen, the Grey Council didn't exist and the Workers weren't even a proper caste with any form of representation at all, merely slaves of the Religious and Warriors. As a result, giving the workers an equal share of power with the priests and warriors was Fair for Its Day.
  • The titular character (as well as his mentor Gaius, and later, Sir Mordred) of BBC's Merlin is constantly subject to Arthur and the other residents of Camelot badmouthing wizards, sorcerers, and any magical or magic-practicing being. Arthur's father Uther regularly executes mages and Arthur ended up continuing this after Uther's death and Merlin just keeps defending him and the kingdom, thinking that it is better to let this continue. He is constantly dumped on for being a dumb, cowardly, incompetent servant, while secretly employing his supernatural powers to save the knights and innocent people, and allowing them to continue murdering magical beings like himself.
  • Inverted in The Orville by the Xelayans, a species known for their incredible strength and endurance (they're Heavy Worlders). However, as revealed in one episode, they're actually a society of peaceful scientists who tend to look down on any non-intellectual profession. So to them, any Xelayan who joins the Union Space Navy is a failure.
  • The Unit:
    • Played with; the Unit is a Delta Force Expy, but takes on a cover as a logistical studies unit. One instance shows up when Kim, a Unit operator's wife goes to console another military wife friend, whose air cavalry husband is recently KIA. Her friend disdainfully pushes Kim away, because her husband is now a logistics clerk, so she isn't a "soldier's wife" and has no business consoling one.
    • In another episode, Unit operator Hector Williams starts dating a retired Airborne Ranger Senior NCO's daughter. Said retired NCO is contemptuous of Hector because he is just a logistics clerk. After learning Hector's true job, he starts being nice to Hector... and his daughter ends up dumping him since the entire reason she was dating a "logistics clerk" was so that she could have a husband that could easily transition to a post-military career, which a "gunman" cannot.
  • In The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance the Skeksis, who treat the Scientist like trash despite the fact that it's only because of his work that they can even live at that point.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Orks have a somewhat complicated relationship with this trope:
      • This is averted with the actual scientist oddboyz such as painboyz and meks, whose disciplines are rather more suited to combat (read: one patches you up and "improves" you whether you like it or not; the other makes huge, impractical, god-awesome guns, vehicles and mechs that have a good chance of going boom). Further, the painboyz get plenty of respect off the battlefield because the other Orks are scared witless of them.
      • The Gretchin, goblinoid relatives of the Orks, are responsible for every menial job necessary to keep the Orks' society and hordes going but too boring or non-fighting related for the Orks to bother with — mushroom farming, brewing, food preparation, supply transport, technical maintenance, and so on. Orkish society is utterly dependent on Gretchin labor, but their small size and... underwhelming... martial skills mean that the Orks treat the Gretchin with nothing but derision and comical levels of abuse.
      • Amongst the Orkish clans, the Blood Axes are distrusted and derided due to their willingness to retreat from combat instead of dying pointlessly, hire themselves out as mercenaries to other races, adopt (garish and clashing) camouflage, and generally use tactics more sophisticated than More Dakka or a frontal attack. In short, mainstream Orks consider them culturally contaminated by those "stinkin' 'umies!" Note that some of the most successful ork warlords are Blood Axes.
      • A more generic Ork example are the Stormboyz, who have rebelled from a chaotically evil society for a regimented lifestyle of military discipline, marching, and uniforms but also evil. Other Orks shake their heads at Stormboyz' obsession with battlefield intelligence beyond knowing the general direction to the enemy, but put up with their deviant behavior since Stormboyz make such effective jet pack assault troops.
    • Psykers (people with psychic powers) are essential to the Imperium of Man, since they provide navigation to fleets through the Warp, FTL communication, and incredibly powerful assets on the battlefield, yet most citizens treat them with a mixture of fear and hatred, and sometimes an odd measure of respect, since a sanctioned Psyker must stand before The God-Emperor. This isn't entirely unjustified in a setting where a single Psyker's lapse of control can result in The Legions of Hell spilling out into the material universe, and explains why unsanctioned Psykers are burnt at the stake with the other mutants and deviants as per government policy.
    • Played with with the actual scientists in the Imperium,note  the Adeptus Mechanicus. They are absolutely necessary for keeping the Imperium technologically equipped since most scientific knowledge has been all but lost to the rest of the human race. And to the mechanicus, while many of its members are ignorant of the physics behind their technology, much of their senior staff have an understanding of technology that makes their mysticism seem justified. As such, the AdMech is given a lot of leeway, and they're pretty much a self-contained empire within an empire whose beliefs would actually be considered outright heresy by the rest of the Imperium if they didn't need them so much. Given their level of independence and lack of oversight, the Mechanicus has become a shady, secretive organization that jealously guards their monopoly on technology and often pursues their own interest at the expense of other Imperial elements. The greater part of the Imperium distrusts the Mechanicus, sometimes for good reason, and the tension has caused outbreaks of violence on occasion.
    • But played straighter with the Techmarines. Since they study technology for decades on Mars in order to properly maintain the Chapter's vast amounts of technology, they are somewhat estranged from the battle-brothers who've done nothing but fight since their initiation. That said, they do get respect, since they're ten-foot tall power armored half-cyborgs with giant mechanical arms and power tools.
    • Space Marine Librarians are given the respect that comes from being gifted with incredible psychic power... and the fear that comes from knowing said power can turn against you at any second through no fault of the wielder.
    • Depending on the Chapter, this can be the situation for the Chapter Serfs. They are the logistical arm of the Space Marines and keep everything running since an Astartes is supposed to do nothing but fight, train to fight and maintain the weapons by which to fight. In some cases they man the Battle Barges that transport the Space Marines en masse to their staging grounds. While some Chapters treat their serfs with as much one of Humanity's Finest can afford a vanilla human (especially those whose serfs are failed candidates for the Astartes transformation process), others pretty much regard their serfs as slaves.
    • The Tau take pains to avert this, and their Greater Good philosophy honors all roles as equals, from the farmers and builders and scientists of the Earth Caste to the bureaucrats and merchants of the Water Caste. Of course, the ruling Ethereal Caste can be considered more equal than others.
    • Cowards, warriors who didn't die during combat, and sorcerers are very much hated by Khorne, the biggest War God of the setting. Those pledged to him that fit in those categories (sorcerers are kidnapped instead) are denied Warrior Heaven, instead ending up chained for all eternity at the base of the Skull Throne, forging enchanted weapons and wargear for his chosen champions to use.
    • The World Eaters killed all their Librarians when they fell to Chaos (Khorne specifically). That they have no psychic troops makes no difference to them as they live only to get into melee as fast as possible, to cut down the enemy (enemy being a rather loose definition) or die trying.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Beastmen don't generally possess a great deal of manual dexterity, as their clawed, paw-like hands simply aren't suited for fine manipulation. The exception to this are the Ungors, who have much more humanoid hands and are thus the only tribe members who can reliably perform any kind of complex work. Beastmen tribes are thus almost totally reliant on Ungors for tasks such as binding weapons, creating huts, or carving runes; nonetheless, Ungors form the bottom rung of Beastman society due to their short stature, puny strength and stubby horns, and face constant derision and abuse from the Gors who depend on them entirely for access to weapons, tools and shelter.
  • Traveller: Aslan are a subversion. Females are expected to do all the jobs besides war and politics and esoteric specialties that can be considered related to these, for war and politics are the jobs of the males. All the same, female Aslan get no lower status because of this arrangement.
  • BattleTech: The Clans get a hefty dose of this. Being that their entire society is based around War Is Glorious with their genetically engineered Super Soldiers charging off into battles and basically ruling their society, they do not look highly upon the scientists that spliced their genes together, or the technicians that made their BattleMech's weapons twice as effective as those used by the Inner Sphere, or the merchants who arranged for the budget needed to support its construction, or the labourers who actually did all the hard work. Clan Warriors scorn scientists, the mechanics that repair their equipment, the merchants who plan their economy, and laborers. This even shows up in their faster-than-light capable JumpShips and WarShips, where technicians seem to be regarded as expendable - a captured Clan technician on an Inner Sphere warship is surprised at all the protective gear and life support equipment that engineers are given when working in dangerous conditions.
    • The Clan that took this the furthest was the now dead Smoke Jaguars. They decided that worrying about such things as logistics and manufacturing were beneath the dignity of a warrior and took to raiding their neighbors for needed materials rather than bothering to build their own. This came back to seriously bite them in the ass after they invaded the Inner Sphere, because they took so many casualties that their anemic level of production couldn't come close to producing enough mechs to bring their forces back up to strength, and when the Inner Sphere governments teamed up to attack them several years later (the Inner Sphere wanted to send a message to the Clans and tried to destroy what they thought was the strongest Clan in the Inner Sphere at the time) everyone realized that the Jaguars were really a Paper Tiger and they were completely wiped out.
    • This supercilious glorification of the Warrior Caste at the expense of all the others comes back later in the official history to bite the Clans in their collective ass. True to this trope, it's the Scientists who feel the most unappreciated, and a large, secret cabal of them end up leading a bloody revolt among many of the major Clans of note, costing untold lives and materiel and effectively destroying the Clans' aforementioned technology studies that made them military powerhouses. The lesson to be learned in all of this is that you must give your non-warrior castes the same brooding level of respect as your warrior peers, lest you destroy your own society faster than normal due to internal strife, and your opponents will view you as a laughably inept faction who can't seem to answer its own basic needs of common necessities.
    • Unsurprisingly, the most successful Clans are the ones who avert this trope, namely Clan Diamond Shark/Sea Fox, Clan Star Adder, Clan Coyote and Clan Ghost Bear. To a much lesser extent, Clan Wolf before the Refusal War may count as another Clan to avert this trope due to their Warden philosophy and their Magnificent Bastard Khan Ulric Kerensky who knew how things actually worked in the realm of politics. The Ghost Bears have a concept of "family" that, though not quite as closely interwoven as Inner Sphere Society's concept, makes fellow clansmen much more closely-knit than other clans. The Bears' scientist caste was notably the least penetrated by the aforementioned disaffected scientist cabal. While Clan Diamond Shark/Sea Fox holds their Merchant caste in nearly as much esteem as Warriors, even allowing members to switch between the two castes, and after the Sea Foxes were banished from Clan space they were able to seek refuge amongst their trade partners in the Inner Sphere.
    • The Not-Named-Clan was the one clan to completely avert this trope by allowing free flow of personnel between castes and more-or-less discarding the Fantastic Caste System of the Clans altogether in order to increase efficiency. The result of these policies was for the founder of the Clans to make an example of those who diverged from his vision, and having them all wiped out.
  • Rifts:
    • The Vanguard are a society of mages who secretly protect the Coalition States, a society who considers mages the enemy and generally tortures then executes them. The Vanguard pretty much accept this paranoia and protect the CS in spite of it, much along the lines of Merlin in the BBC TV series.
    • Psi-Stalkers and Dog Boys (mutant humans and bio-engineered humanoid dogs) are the most reliable magic (and supernatural) detectors for keeping squishy human territory free of mega-threats, yet they are discriminated against as second-class citizens (as are all psychics) and viewed with great fear and paranoia. This has begun to change since the Coalition War Campaign, as Dog Boys have become trusted allies of humanity and psychics have been accepted into the military.
    • In the Skraypers setting, the Tarlok have a certain disdain for the Shertar caste. Many of them don't join the military, instead focusing on weapons development and Playing with Syringes (another form of weapons development).
  • Played with in Werewolf: The Apocalypse from the Old World of Darkness line. Werewolves are stratified into their societal roles of lorekeepers, judges, mystics, and the like through their Auspice (the moon phase they're born under, or adopt with the right rite), which also governs how they gain rank and renown in society (except for Ragabash, who are allowed to be more freeform). That said, there's also no social stigma attached to a werewolf filling a nontraditional role, like a Theurge who's also a great warrior or a Philodox with an active sense of long as they can, at minimum, fulfill their Auspice duties ("Sure, that Ahroun warrior can recite whole sagas, but can he fight?").
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • An unofficial 3rd Edition splatbook discussed the concept in regard to the dwarves. Normally, practitioners of arcane magic (i.e. wizards, sorcerers and the like) are shunned because they go against the grain among Dwarven society. The closest they come to accepting the idea is the "Raver", a dwarf wizard who was driven insane when his latent magical talent manifested, and is essentially treated as a mentally ill family member. However, if a Raver wanders off and leaves the burrow, nobody's exactly hurrying to bring them back (though they do feel guilty about feeling this way).
    • In the game's actual canon, things are a bit better, as dwarves may not particularly like spellcasters but they do like magic items and they also like someone who can use magic to protect their warriors, provide early warning from attack, quickly move earth and stone to set up bulwarks, or conjure up powerful elementals to smash their enemies into bits.
  • In The Gates of Hell, the devils of the Denomination of Research are despised for their ability to think outside the frame, although it does seem to be changing as they prove their usefulness.
  • Legend of the Five Rings: That's kinda where the Kolat came from. Dealing with money was considered beneath samurai, so obviously the couldn't touch the stuff. But money dealings were necessary. So peasants were selected to handle the merchanting, but then disparaged because they were so much less useful than Samurai (who protect and serve) and the peasants who actually produce value (like farmers and craftsmen). So, you have a class of people who, by their very nature, develop power, but who are abused and downtrodden at every turn by the holders of higher social power for no rational reason... yeah, a conspiracy to overthrow the nobility was inevitable. And UNDERSTANDABLE. Were we supposed to clap when they lost? Oh, right, they did evil stuff like mind control. Good thing the legitimate Samurai government never did evil stuff.
  • Fragged Empire provides a fun subversion of this in The Legion race. The Legion were genetically engineered soldiers - but the war is over. As a society, they consider farm work and civilian work to be a great sacrifice, because they need food to survive, but they were engineered to want to fight.
  • Starfinder: A vast bureaucracy is required to keep the Veskarium's empire running, but Vesk bureaucrats and low-level civil servants don't get much respect. After the Vesk conquered the Skittermanders without a fight, Skittermanders began helpfully filling these roles for the Vesk, leading some Vesk to worry who conquered who.

  • The Decepticons don't really go in for scientists. The number of named non-Redshirt scientists on their side can be counted by hand, and the few we see are distinctly of the mad variety, or are The Starscream (literally). A Botcon comic set in the Beast Wars era introduces Fractyl, a sane Predacon scientist who, as expected, is treated like a coward by his peers.

    Video Games 
  • Krogan scientists in Mass Effect are so rare that the other races don't even think they're smart enough to have them. In the first game, Urdnot Wrex (himself a Warrior Poet who feels My Species Doth Protest Too Much) sarcastically asks the Player Character when was the last time they saw a krogan scientist. Further, the straightest example of this trope actually comes from salarian scientist Mordin Solus, who was recruited into the party for his own scientific expertise. During one conversation about the genophage, if Shepard asks him whether krogan adaptation to it could be because of krogan scientists making a breakthrough, he disdainfully replies that he's never met a krogan scientist worthy of the title.
    • There's a downplayed subversion in Mass Effect: Saren has a krogan scientist in his employ that tragically gets no lines other than pleading with you not to destroy his work—while attacking you.
    • In the second game, we actually meet three scientifically inclined krogan. The most prominent was Warlord Okeer, an old general who was also a successful biologist or geneticist, whom pretty much every other krogan speaks of with revulsion and disdain. It's hinted that he may have been a war criminal of a sort that other krogan couldn't stomach, but most of the hate is due to the nature of his experiments (but nevertheless succeeded in creating the most badass krogan since Wrex himself). Then came Urdnot Fortack, who was assigned duties such as medicinal engineering and crop genetics under Wrex; a duty Fortack laments, saying that krogan scientists are supposed to make things that explode. (He is much happier under Wrex's brother, should Wrex be dead, manufacturing armaments.) And finally, the krogan mechanic on Tuchanka, who complains that he never gets any respect for what he does, even though everything would fall apart if he wasn't there to fix it. Krogan mechanics working on other worlds do seem to get respect though.
      Lord High Researcher Fortack: My predecessor said no one would understand the true worth of my work. As I pulled my blade from his chest, I knew he was telling the truth.
      Commander Shepard: Not exactly what I would call effective academic peer review.
    • The krogan do at least try to subvert this trope, and the few scientists that do exist aren't exactly out of shape nerds, either. Lord High Researcher Fortack mentions how he killed his predecessor to get his position as Clan Urdnot's scientist. And Okeer, after all, was a Warlord. Krogan Shamans undergo horrific rites to gain their position, rites that kill many krogans, and so are worthy of respect. Krogan Ambassadors represent the strength of their clan and so must themselves be mighty warriors lest their clan be viewed as weak. Further, krogan recognize that not everyone can be a great warrior, so their combat rituals allow an individual to bring a squad of friends (called a "krantt"). As the krogan running Grunt's puberty rite puts it:
      Urdnot Shaman: Not every krogan can be the strongest warrior, but each must inspire loyalty and the will to fight in his comrades.
    • This also explains why even the nicest Paragon Shepard easily earns the krogans' respect; if Wrex of all people was willing to follow them and defer to their command, they must be doing something right. Bonus points if Shepard is an Engineer, on top of all that.
    • On Tuchanka, you can overhear a pair of Urdnot warriors discussing how one of them actually wishes to become a scientist, to the relative bemusement of his comrade. At the end of the conversation chain, the aspirant wins a full-ride scholarship to attend a prestigious university on the Citadel, and can barely contain his excitement.
    • Even the codex takes potshots at them, despite supposedly being from an objective in-universe source. The description for Vaul is a good example.
    • Very averted in Mass Effect: Andromeda. Nakmor Kesh is an engineer who almost single-handedly kept the Nexus from falling apart before the human Pathfinder showed up, is a member of the de facto governing council and respected by almost all the others (except salarians), and makes her old warrior grandfather Drack incredibly proud. Her boyfriend Vorn is a respected krogan botanist whom the colony is devoting a considerable amount of their very limited resources toward (they understand that if there are no plants, the colony is doomed), and at the krogan colony one of the first people you encounter is a geneticist who certainly isn't ashamed of what he is (that he's working on curing the genophage probably helps his fellow krogan's approval for him).
  • From a Metagame perspective, Newman Fortefighters/Fighmasters and CAST Fortetechers/Masterforces in Phantasy Star Universe.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Altmer (High Elves) are the most magically inclined race in Tamriel with a very haughty Crystal Spires and Togas society. While primarily known for their sorcery and magical prowess, they do employ armed-and-armored soldiers as well. However, these soldiers are openly disrespected by the mages, who are typically upper-class. In their Fantastic Caste System, "warriors" come in around the middle, just above merchants and common workers. In Skyrim, one can overhear a conversation between two Thalmor guards where one of them says that "he hopes that a dragon eats all of their wizards," showing that this dislike goes in the opposite direction as well.
    • The Nords are the exact opposite of the Altmer. As a Proud Warrior Race with Blood Knight traits who openly seek to enter Sovngarde when they die, the Nords openly deride those who practice magic as weaklings. They do make an exception for the Restoration school of magic, as they do appreciate good healers. They also enjoy having their weapons and armor enchanted — a hypocrisy which irritates the College of Winterhold's resident enchanter, who notes that at least his profession "will always be accepted, if not liked." In Skyrim, one can meet the old Nordic god Tsun, who states that this was not always the case — the ancient Nords referred to magic as "the Clever Craft," and suitably heroic mages were considered to have earned their place in Sovngarde, spells or no spells. (Many of these heroes were still Magic Knights though, and quite capable in melee combat if the situation calls for it.) These anti-magic beliefs only became worse during the Oblivion Crisis, since the Nord population at large blamed mages for the crisis in the first place.
    • The Redguards are another race of Men which has an open dislike for those who practice magic. In their case, the only exception is made for users of the Destruction school, as dealing more damage is always a good thing in their culture. In Oblivion, Trayvond, a student at the Mages' Guild hall in Cheydinhal, lampshades this:
      Trayvond: I'm Trayvond the Redguard, Mages' Guild Evoker. Surprised? Yes, you don't see many Redguards in the Mages' Guild. We don't much like spellcasters in Hammerfell. Wizards steal souls and tamper with minds. If you use magic, you're weak or wicked.
    • The Orcs also pride themselves on martial pursuits, as well as smithing and hunting. Their culture also respects practical sorcery and medicinal herbology, to an extent, as skills for survival. But they have no love for superficial, aesthetic or luxurious things, which means Orc artists, merchants and scholars tend to be scorned by their kin and doubted by those of other races. Perhaps best exemplified by Duma gro-Lag, an Orc sculptor in Morrowind who laments that his friends only appreciate his sculptures as things they can smash for fun.
  • The general populace in the Dragon Age games fear mages. But magic is extremely useful, and mages were vital in halting the Qunari's previous crusade. So much so that even the magic-hating Qunari have started putting their own mages to good use.
    • Averted if the Warden is a Mage in Dragon Age: Origins. During the ending, First Enchanter Irving admits that he honestly never thought he'd live to see the day when the people of Ferelden would fill the streets, gladly cheering for a Mage who has become their saviour.
    • Similarly averted in Dragon Age II, where a Mage Hawke is adored by the population of Kirkwall for single-handedly ending the Qunari invasion, despite having been outed as an illegal Apostate who'd been secretly operating under the Templars noses for several years. This effectively makes Mage!Hawke politically untouchable by the Templars in Kirkwall.
    • Anders is similarly beloved by the Ferelden refugees in Kirkwall, due to working tirelessly as their Healer in his clinic in Darktown. This is despite his activities in the Mage Underground and his occasional lapses into Dr. Jerk territory at times.
  • Pretty much any noncombatant is widely disdained by the Aurorans in EV Nova. Ironically, the Auroran house that most fulfills the Proud Warrior Race trope, House Heraan, is also the house that is most likely to avert this trope. That's why they get cool starships like the Argosy and Thunderforge: they actually pay for scientific research. With this said, while scientists are consistently looked down upon by the other Houses, the degree to which other non-warrior professions are looked down upon varies. For instance, the description for the House Dani world of Palein notes that engineers and physicians are given at least grudging respect (as the warriors are very well aware of how much they need both to keep fighting), with it going so far as to say that no-one would dare insult the graduate physicians of Palein, who spend their lives healing the countless warriors seriously injured in battle.
  • Averted by the Iron and Ash Legions of the Charr in Guild Wars 2. While even their leaderships seems dead set on domination and bloodlust, they're second only to Asuran Magitek in terms of technological and industrial development and have created technology ranging from tanks to the printing press. They don't consider their scholars or technicians any less of a combatant than their front-line soldiers, though. The three Legions give each other flak for their main methods of warfare. The dedicated infantry of the Blood Legion often deride the Iron and Ash for relying on crutches (technology and stealth/deception respectively) and only change their mind about individuals from those Legions who prove themselves in combat.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The Mantid are sort of a subversion. They're such a Proud Warrior Race that young Mantid don't even have any real place in Mantid society until they're taken part in battle, but, while Mantid are all expected to kill things, Mantid society isn't exactly picky about how they do it. Players get to meet some of the Mantid's greatest warriors (who've been sealed in amber, just in case) and among them are an alchemist, a Fluffy Tamer, and a Mad Scientist.
    • Also invoked by the bloodelf city guards of Silvermoon. When asked for the location of certain profession trainers they sometimes mention something about getting one's hands dirty, like herbalism means "digging in dirt". It should be mentioned that the bloodelf society is a very decadent one, most labor is done by magic, just wandering through Silvermoon shows enchanted brooms sweeping the streets, signposts inscribing themselves, etc.
  • Halo:
    • As first shown in Halo: The Cole Protocol, the Sangheili/Elites despise doctors, because the species views blood as something sacred that should only be spilled from battle, but doctors cause you to bleed without honor. This bites them in the butt after the war ends, when they learn just how crippling it is for their entire species to be a Proud Warrior Race. Halo 5: Guardians shows that the Arbiter is making an effort to get his followers to shed their taboo against medical treatment. One Sangheili doctor in an audio log even mentions having to break the rules, working in secret and sedating patients, just to get them proper treatment.
    • This comes up with the Warrior-Servant caste in The Forerunner Saga. Forerunner society has ideals of nonviolence, so Warriors are a pretty low class, but the Warrior-Servants are obviously necessary to save the citizenry from any threats others might pose. Subverted when it turns out Warrior-Servants used to be at the top of the social pyramid for the majority of Forerunner history, but after the Builder rate won a massive civil war around 500,000 BCE, they established themselves as the highest rate in society and promptly purged all the others rates of their cultures and roles to better establish control. Importantly, this included the demotion of the Warriors to the lowest rate and the name change of the rate itself from Warrior to Warrior-servant as a final insult/humiliation.
  • In Tales of Maj'Eyal, the Kruk Pride orcs got this in the backstory after the death of Garkul. The Kruk specialize in support and logistics, and this made them an integral part of Garkul's army because the latter was a brilliant general who understood that an army marches on its stomach. After Garkul died, though the Kruk were treated like crap by other orcs who couldn't understand why the Kruk were wasting their time building things instead of killing humans like real orcs.
  • In Terra Invicta, the Absolute Xenophobe faction, Humanity First, has a downplayed case of this. They understand, in the abstract, that giving their "eggheads" the resources and support they need is vital to winning the war against the Alien Invasion, and do so. However, their leader, Col. Castillo, makes it clear he has absolutely no interest in any scientific research or discovery if it is not of tactical value, and similar attitudes seem to be common among the rank and file.
  • Anyone involved in the arts gets little respect in Xenoblade Chronicles 3, as it is seen as superfluous to the Forever War even if said art provides a morale boost. This lack of respect is a contributing factor towards Joran and Shania becoming Moebius.

  • In Art of Domination, Saramis scientists look down on those among them who aren't developing weapons. Medical genius Koda Serivi was pressured into designing a rifle, which came out with some glaring flaws.
  • Drive (Dave Kellet): Tesskans have no scientists of their own: they enslaved the Fillipods to do the science for them. And the Fillipods secretly bit them back during the war against humans, because they knew a human victory was good for them.
  • Whomp!: The Smartest Klingon (providing the current image for this trope).
  • Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger features Ensign Dweebly, the adorkable nerd from the ironically dystopian Star-Trek-Federation-Expy. Basically, they're a deconstruction of true communism (where supposedly everyone is equal and nobody is allowed to starve or be executed, etc.); it ends up being super-fascist and requires aid from a higher-dimensional being just to (barely) survive. Getting told this by said secret-leader convinces him to defect to the Seven Systems Alliance with Quentyn as his part-time captain.
  • Nodwick: You'd be surprised how little use a kobold tribe has for an economics major. Still, Nodwick and his friends find him useful.
  • Star Mares: Unicorns are absolutely essential to the continued functioning of the Empire, as all Equestrian technology is ultimately powered by unicorn magic. However, largely due to the Secessionist faction being led by and consisting mostly of unicorns, they are banned from the Imperial military except as support staff and are generally given the dirtiest jobs, on the grounds that they don't actually have to touch anything icky so it's all right. Pegasi are similarly stigmatized, but since they control the most lucrative trade routes, they are not affected nearly as badly.
  • Outsider: Downplayed. While no outright disdain is present towards noncombatants, the Loroi are still a warrior culture and value martial life as the epitome of civilization. As such, military castes that do not habitually participate in combat — such as the Listel scientists, Doranzer medics and Mizol diplomats — are given very limited authority and respect within the Loroi military. Unlike in real-life armed forces, where ranks are absolute — for instance, a low-ranking soldier is still expected to salute a high-ranking medic or diplomat — Loroi fighters and commanders refuse to give formal deference to noncombatants, regardless of their rank.

    Web Original 
  • Nilenirans in The Movolreilen Saga extend this to any girl that doesn't complete her training, even if she still becomes a warrior (These warriors that failed their training are called "Secondaries", and make up the bulk of the Nileniran military strength).
  • The Shortest Story: "The First Healer" - If the only way into heaven is to fight, a healer cannot go there. Subverted when their fellows rescue them from hell.

    Web Videos 
  • RedLetterMedia discusses this trope during their Alien vs. Predator commentary. Mike compares the Predator to the Klingons and says he can't see a warrior culture like theirs inventing sophisticated technology. Jay and Rich point out that they may be the interstellar equivalent of big game hunters. It culminates in an impromptu skit where the Predator has to go home early to deal with identity theft on his taxes.
  • This trope is dismissed as a stupid concept in the Zero Punctuation review of Middle-earth: Shadow of War, on the grounds that not everyone in a civilisation can be a warrior, and that "someone's got to build all the huts and fences and sew everyone's trousers together". Yahtzee praises how the orcs are characterised in this game and its prequel in spite of this, noting in particular a conversation he overheard in which two orc workers rationalised carpentry as being basically the same thing as fighting, if you think about it.

    Western Animation 
  • King of the Hill examines this in certain aspects of Southern US culture. In an episode dealing with rodeos, we see that rodeo clowns (a legitimate part of the act, and often the most dangerous) are mocked and scorned by the cowboys and ranch hands for being utterly useless. In another, Bobby gets a job as towel manager for a football team, to find the athletes and coach (who are revered at school and in the community) are perfectly free to treat him like crap. When Bobby quits, the team's lack of clean towels cost them a win, yet they still blame him for it.
  • In Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), Hermey the elf doesn't like to make toys. He wants to be... a dentist!
    Hermey: Well we need one up here!
  • Speaking of Rudolph, in Courage the Cowardly Dog, a small red robot by the name of Randy wants to carve wooden reindeer, despite being seen as a failure to his robot brethren for not having a desire to destory things.
  • Referenced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, underlined by a case of Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: the Mandalorian warriors used to look down on their non-warriors and treat them as inferiors. Eventually, the non-warriors got so sick of this that they used their control over the food supplies, arsenals, production lines, etc., to exterminate the warriors, driving the survivors into exile on their homeworld's moon, where they went extinct. By the end of the first episode featuring them this turns out to be a naive delusion; the warriors were still in charge everywhere but the homeworld, including an army massing on the moon right under their nose.
  • The Smurfs episode "Poet and Painter" has the two artistic Smurfs mistreated at the beginning of the episode as they were considered useless by Smurf's standards (in comparison to other, more practical, professions) motivating them to run away. Eventually the other Smurfs realize that they do need the art that Painter and Poet produce to improve their lives and go in search for them.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender gives this a Magic Versus Science spin; the normal Galra military are extremely dismissive and hostile towards Galra that become druids and witches, seeing them as untrustworthy jerks who are leading the emperor astray and disrespecting traditions. They're key to collecting and wielding quintessence, but that doesn't improve opinions much. Emperor Zarkon himself doesn't seem to hold this view... though that doesn't say much, since he basically Hates Everyone Equally.