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In a world with Differently Powered Individuals, what use are Muggles? They're weak, need protecting, are evolutionary dead ends and are of no real use. Even the Badass Normal on a team of supers can start getting depressed from this, and they are useful!

This usually serves as a motivation for individuals and groups who decide to "do something about it" rather than take it lying down.

Option 1: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

Much like a super-power groupie, these people will try to get super powers by mimicking their betters, often at great risk by trying to replicate how heroes get their powers. If enough people get this idea, or the government gets behind it, then it becomes a case of Utopia Justifies the Means. This can include Organ Theft, free Super Serum, cyber augmentations half off, and in general making Emergency Transformations routine medical procedures. Interestingly, though this group means well, anyone aspiring to power (even if they want to share it) is inevitably misguided if not outright evil, because a muggle should Never Be a Hero. The route of Badass Normal seems to have much better odds, on the other hand.

Option 2: If you can't join 'em, kill 'em!

These people usually come to this conclusion by adding some paranoia (justified or not) to Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke and naturally born supers are out-pacing mundanes. They interpret the "obsolescence" of baseline humans as an edict to kill all Mutants/psychics/witches in an ""Us or Them" fashion, fearing that supers will either forcibly take over or replace all humans. These types are usually spurred on by the villains attempts to do just that, and end up branding all supers as threats. Previously nice supers, in turn, will interpret this xenophobia as cause to exterminate or enslave all humans... This is usually the fear behind any Super Registration Act. Typically accomplished by calling the Cape Busters. See also Tall Poppy Syndrome.

Whether the story chooses to address the underlying insecurity or not varies. When it does, it usually justifies baseline human's existence with a nice aesop like: our limitations drive us to excel, only humans can truly create, a world of all supers would devolve into planetary civil war (like we normals have done such a good job keeping peace without supers)... or, that we're so fundamentally bad that only a handful should have these powers, if at all. Since super-powered heroes are usually the focus of these stories, it's not rare to see a perfectly sensible initiative by the government to have its own supers, either to stop supervillains or to stop a hero if he should go rogue, turned into paranoid and militant strawmen bent on killing all heroes on the off chance of a super powered Social Darwinist takeover.

Post-Cyberpunk stories that include The Singularity often have conflicts between humans and post-humans. Earlier stories had Mutants on higher Evolutionary Levels that likewise were generally incapable of coexisting with their predecessors.

An interesting variation has the supers be vampires, werewolves, aliens, or some other "bad" race... or outright evil race. In which case those wanting power (or unwillingly transformed) are prone to Transhuman Treachery.

Sometimes this trope is unsure what to do with a Badass Normal.

Opposite of Comes Great Responsibility and Muggles Do It Better.

Compare What Measure Is a Mook?, Ape Shall Never Kill Ape and Pro-Human Transhuman. Contrast Super Supremacist. A Sub-Trope of Fantastic Racism.

The Anti-Magical Faction is a variant of this trope that focuses exclusively on magic and those who can use it. This trope is very often a feature of Cape Punk stories.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Darker Than Black shows the few humans aware of Contractors having a "if you can't beat 'em, employ them" attitude, with the majority of the Contractors being aggressively headhunted and employed as 'special operatives' by various national security agencies like MI-6, the CIA, or by the mysterious criminal 'syndicate' that employs Hei. It eventually turns out that all these agencies are part of a single conspiracy to wipe contractors clean off the face of the Earth. This led to the formation of a La Résistance-style group determined to wall off the Gates so that the Contractor-genocide wouldn't be possible, even though they would have wiped out all of Japan in the process. Hei does not approve of either option.
  • D.Gray-Man: Only Exorcists can kill Akuma. The Third Exorcists was formed by non-exorcists who were frustrated with this (and how the Black Order treats the regular humans who try to help anyway as expendable), and as a consequence they volunteered for a human experiment that transformed them into Human-akuma hybrids.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • Academy City is essentially filled with superpowered kids (espers) for purposes on educating and training them on the use of their powers in one centralized location. However, their powers are ranked on a scale of 0 to 5, with level 0s basically being normal humans since their powers are so weak. Level 0s are sometimes considered social outcasts and tend to be bullied by more powerful espers. This leads many level 0s to try and find a way to boost their powers, even if such methods are morally questionable. In the Level Upper arc of A Certain Scientific Railgun , in the eponymous Level Upper is making its way into the hands of Level 0s, allowing them to temporarily gain abilities (or increase the level of ability users) at the cost of eventual comatose.
    • Skill-Out is a gang of level 0s who lead attacks on espers. They claim it is for revenge and to defend themselves against the bullying espers, but Touma and others call them out on attacking espers who don't do anything wrong and the occasional muggle bystander.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED: There are a group of Naturals (unmodified humans) known as Blue Cosmos who seek to eradicate Coordinators (genetically-enhanced humans) because they believe they're "impure". In fact, Blue Cosmos' motto is "For the preservation of our Blue And Pure World". Their actions have started two massive wars because of this. Not bad for a group that started out as an environmental protection group! It was mostly because they were backed by LOGOS, an organization that's about War for Fun and Profit.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender comic "No Benders Allowed" plays this for laughs. The badass normals feel left out, so they form a little club that benders can't join. The benders initially think the club is stupid, but they all eventually beg their way inside.
  • The X-Men are forced to deal with this all the time. If it's not the Brotherhood of Mutants trying to "save mutants" by using terrorism, then it's a radical human group trying to exterminate all mutants, or a radical human group trying to harvest mutant organs or just opportunists wanting to enslave mutants as mindless workers or Super Soldiers.
    • Before House of M, there was a movement among humans calling themselves the U-Men who believed they could become greater than mutants by harvesting and grafting mutant body parts onto themselves. Among the list of parts taken are the eyes of a kid with X-ray vision, the wings off a flying mutant girl, and even keeping a kid with electric powers imprisoned to use blood transfusions from him to gain powers.
    • This has become a major case of Broken Aesop over the course of the various comics in the X-Men family. A great many storylines have revolved around some awesomely powerful evil mutant(s) openly threatening the world and scaring the heck out of the general population. Sure, the X-teams usually manage to stop whoever it is, but not before the landscape as been chewed up a bit. While the mutants are meant to be seen sympathetically by the readers, given the circumstances humanity's fear of mutants actually seems very rational, in particular since the power level of mutant villains seems to always be increasing. Then again, how many of those mutantsbecame villains in the first place because "baseline" humans treated them with fear and hatred?
  • Top 10 takes a rather unique approach to this problem. The Prequel The Forty-Niners explain that after the allies won World War II, they build a city and relocated all the Superhumans, Badass Normals and Mad Scientists who survived the war there.
    Steve "Jetlad" Traynor: Th-This is nuts. Everybody's a science-hero! I mean, this will never work, the government, this whole relocation thing, it's just...
    Leni "Sky Witch" Muller: The war's over, mein junge, and now nobody wants us living next door to them.
  • In Alan Moore's Miracleman/Marvelman, the government-created supers turn out to be too powerful for the government's liking, so it tries to kill them all. It doesn't work, and the supers and aliens take over the world for its own good. Eventually, everyone is offered the chance to become superhuman. There is some musing on some fundamental humanity that they have lost in becoming superhuman.
  • PS238 had a government-funded "Project Rainmaker" in its backstory; it was trying to study metahumans to find out what made them different from normal people and possibly use this knowledge for the benefit of the US government. It got wrecked by the metahuman it was experimenting on.
  • American Dream idolized Captain America and decided to ask superheroes for training to become one (of the Badass Normal type). It worked.
  • Zenith uses this extensively in its backstory. In the end, it turns out that the fear was dead-on, and they really did need to Beware the Superman, with a handful of exceptions.
  • IDW's Transformers: When the Decepticons were recouping from Megatron's apparent death, the Autobots were being hunted by Skywatch, a government group that acquired Cybertronian technology. While Skywatch eventually comes on somewhat friendly terms with the Autobots, a new group known as Earth's Children rises up, wishing for the removal of all Transformers, and apparently headed by a really Smug Snake. Who turns out to be a facsimile for Swindle to stir conflict and make a market for him.
  • Some comics in the Marvel Universe speculate Society Is to Blame for Muggle Power. Super-heroes are extraordinary people with amazing abilities and dedicate their lives to improving the world around them, so normal humans feel weak and selfish by comparison. The Kingpin ties this into I Just Want to Be Normal and Tall Poppy Syndrome in "The Reason You Suck" Speech in Ultimate Spider-Man #80.
    The Kingpin: They, "society," hate you because they don't want your help. You remind them of how weak-willed and sheep-like and unspecial they are. How gleeful they are, deep down, to be ordinary. They don't want heroes. They don't want special people around them. Because if there are special people and they aren't one of them — well, who wants that? Who wants a constant reminder that they aren't even trying to be special? See, the difference between you and I is that you really are just a child. You benefit from the wide-eyed optimism of youth. I do envy that, somewhat. But... like many of your decisions in life... it's just naive. And I don't envy that harsh cold slap of reality that will come your way soon enough. But I guess it's inevitable. People don't want to be special. I do think that. It is my philosophy. They — people want to be told what to do and how to live and they want men like me to tell them. They want to go to work and do as little as they can possibly get away with, and they want a big cookie at the end of the day for doing it. And they want men like me to give it to them.
  • Empowered has an actual capeless uprising in its recent backstory, where a group of cape-killers began hunting down superhero and supervillain alike. The San Antonio Supervolcano may or may not be related to this. Unbeknownst to his girlfriend, ThugBoy was directly involved in it, and has a few cape kills to his name. And according to Maidman, another uprising may be in the near future.
  • Superman:
    • It's become fairly common for Superman's archenemy, Lex Luthor, to be portrayed as a pro-human/anti-alien extremist who sees himself as enabling humanity to stand on its own two feet. While his position is ultimately self-serving, Luthor's argument that superhumans hold humanity back from truly excelling is one that resonates with some people in-universe and out.
    • Arion wanted to destroy Superman because he felt like Superman was propping the world up to the point that when he broke, it would crush humanity.
    • New Krypton saw Luthor join forces with General Sam Lane, a paranoid General Ripper (and father of Lois Lane) who believes that all heroes — and aliens in particular — are bound to turn on humanity. Lane proceeds to recruit Metallo and Supergirl adversary Reactron, as well as "Superwoman" (really his daughter Lucy) and Codename:Assassin to form the core of his Human Defense Corps and wage war against Superman and New Krypton.
  • In The Royals Masters of War, The French Revolution sent shockwaves among the superpowered royals as it was the first time the non-superpowered "commoners" succeeded in threatening their kind on such a large scale. Centuries later, both the Nazis and Soviets had become adept in killing the old nobles and royalty, capturing those who couldn't die and persecuting the few in their territories who remain.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Incredibles:
    • Syndrome takes both options, reacting to what he sees as a snub by his hero for all the wrong reasons. Buddy was endangering himself and Mr. Incredible by being an untrained and self-appointed "sidekick," but Buddy misinterpreted it as being rejected because he had no superpowers. So, when Buddy grows up, he puts all his Gadgeteer Genius ability into making weapons and gear that allows him to be a genuine threat, enacting a vendetta on all super-abled people out of petty revenge, and then saying that he would sell his weaponry openly, making it so "if everyone is super, then no one will be."
    • The backstory of the film is that everybody loved supers, at first, and then they literally sued them out of existence; after Mr. Incredible was sued for his slightly rough thwarting of a man's attempted suicide, it opened the gateways for a wave of such claims, until the government forced the supers to go underground. Making things worse, one could argue that this was all Buddy's fault; things might have just stopped with that first Jerkass if not for the fact that, on the same night, his disastrously malfunctioning rocketboots smashed a train-tracked bridge, and the passengers from that train then sued Mr. Incredible for stopping them from crashing.
    • The original conception for the film would have been even worse, as seen in the rejected opening, where Syndrome makes the blood-chilling comment to Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl about how they know "supers aren't supposed to breed". Very deliberately choosing the term "breed". As if supers are no more than animals.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Paladins in Jumper seem to be hunting down the eponymous teleporting mutants mostly because they're too powerful to be permitted to exist. Unfortunately, the rhetoric the Paladins use smells too much like the Inquisition: "Only God should have the power to be everywhere at once". That's enough to make them seem like religious nutjobs to many people.
  • Almost immediately after the existence of Vampires and Lycans are exposed to humanity in Underworld: Awakening, human military forces hunt both races to near extinction for... no specific reason, really.
  • In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Mary Lou Barebone tried to raise awareness of the, perceived, threat posed by the wizarding world by staging manifestations with her group that she calls the "Second Salemers".

    Literature 
  • In Unique, the various supernatural entities the story focuses on were tracked down and told very plainly that they could behave themselves or die.
  • The Puritan post-apocalyptic society in John Wyndham's The Chrysalids exterminates all mutations on sight... and 99% of them are totally harmless with stuff like 6 toes or blue skin.
  • The House of Night books have Option 2. Churches decide that vampyres are sinners and start killing teachers at Zoey's school. Neferet, the head of the school, decides to wage war against them.
  • Lawrence Watt-Evans' Worlds of Shadow used the Warhammer 40,000 approach to psychics. Not because they are actually dangerous, mind you, but because the society that have them considers them "mutant freaks."
  • In Gone, the Human Crew is a group of "normals" who go with option 2.
  • The Dresden Files has a few finer points to this trope.
    • This trope isn't exactly in play, but every major supernatural power is well aware that civilization has put the framework for a strong Type 2 well in place. Hence, despite all of the bickering and rivalries, there's a tacit agreement to keep humanity ignorant of their collective existence for fear of the consequences to all parties involved. Harry once made the comparison that regular humans are the nuclear option of the supernatural world; when two scary guys duke it out where the public can see them, even if one is on their side, regular people would burn the both of them at the stake to be able to sleep at night.
    • Individual humans may just be cattle and pawns to the supernaturals, but humans have numbers. All but the strongest of supernaturals can justifiably be afraid of a mob with torches and pitchforks; ever since humanity's numbers have been taking off since the Industrial Revolution, the advantage humans have had has only magnified. (As author Jim Butcher describes it, a wizard can kill a mortal with about the same effort you'd expend throwing a pebble across a room. Now throw a million pebbles.) Human numbers alone is reason enough for most power players to fear the potential of humanity as a whole.
    • In addition, we have guns and tanks and nukes. Harry Dresden, who's become something of The Dreaded to supernatural middleweights and below, and a figure of some respect for many entities of higher status, was nearly killed on several occasions due to the simple fact that the other guys used guns. To paraphrase his own words, firearms manufacturers have become the premier producers of killing implements in the mundane and supernatural world.
  • In The Pillars of Reality, there are a lot of ordinary people who resent the power of the Mages and the Mechanics, and some of them want to do something about it. The first major attempt is attempting to secretly reproduce the technology of Mechanics' rifles; it's stopped, but the issue won't just disappear (despite the Guild tending to act like it will).
  • A large part of The Infected. The Infected gain superpowers, but also mental disorders. The first book opens to a man trying and failing to save a woman from a serial killer, being teleported back to his apartment and then being brutally beaten by police (he was complying, to the best of his ability), taken to the station, beaten some more, then left for days in a cell to die. The situation for Infected continues to get worse as the series progresses, from simple denial of services to outright lynch mobs gathering whenever a visible or known Infected appears in public.

    Live-Action TV 
  • True Blood:
  • Heroes:
    • The Company, a group with the ostensibly good goal of keeping tabs on all super-powered individuals and helping them cope with their powers to protect the general public and maintain a Masquerade... which, thanks to evil/incompetent bosses, has devolved to the point of doing Bag and Tag's of all heroes they can find with a complimentary mind wipe, and killing those deemed "too dangerous to exist"... unless they're Sylar. And all the villains they have in storage that got released in season 3 as yet another Idiot Plot, despite Company's willingness to kill much more decent people in the pursuit of stability. Granted, while they do have a lot of muggle members, they have plenty of superpowered members too, and are in fact run by a group of superhumans, several of whom are actually pretty sinister.
    • In volume 4 the Company is replaced with a government organization meant to capture all people with abilities — except Nathan, who started it. His claim is that he's doing it because people with abilities are too dangerous to be left running around, which would be more convincing if he didn't target his own well-meaning allies and a guy who can breathe underwater. Rather than concentrating his attentions on say, Sylar. Again.
  • Painkiller Jane was part of an organization who worked to find and "chip" all Neuros — even the ones who never did anything. Jane is the only superhuman member of the group, and even that's only allowed because she's not technically a Neuro.
  • On Babylon 5, a lot of mundanes dislike telepaths. Including a group who builds a virus to kill all telepaths. And the Telepath war is a major part of continuity. The Psi Corps Trilogy novels reveal that, when the existence of telepaths became public knowledge, many telepaths were lynched simply for fear of having this ability. This is even after the Pope proclaimed that telepaths are still children of God and should not be harmed, although one Italian mobster does let a card-cheating telepath live because of this in exchange for help in catching other cheaters.
  • In Andromeda, the Knights of Genetic Purity consider the Nietzscheans (and all others with genetic mods) an abomination.
  • Star Trek:
    • In the backstory, the Eugenic Wars between genetically engineered and other humans lead to genetic augmentation becoming a forbidden technique. They apparently got over this in later years; genetic modification for mundane purposes (correcting congenital defects, for example) is perfectly okay, but physical and mental augmentation is still illegal. In Star Trek: Enterprise, we find out that part of the problem is that the Augment process seems to create musclebound sociopaths. We also discover that the Denobulans used the technology without problems.
    • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Founder Changelings derogatorily call all non-shape-shifters "solids" and struggle to either control or destroy them. This in turn was caused by Changelings being hunted by other species in the past because of their abilities (in "Shadowplay" we see such attitude).
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The Watcher's Council is basically a group of Muggles who got together and decided that they and they alone were going to be in charge of the fight against evil, and they employ and monitor various agents (the most important of which being the Slayer) in their fight. The fact that most of them are incompetent dullards and piss-poor mages (which still qualifies as Muggledom, as most everyone in the Buffyverse is capable of magic) doesn't seem to occur to anyone until Buffy comes along.
    • Meanwhile, the Initiative is basically a government-run version that trades the shitty mages for denial and a splash of ultra-tech. It manages to do slightly better than the Watcher's Council, which was destroyed by a single psychotic preacher using a bomb.
  • The Hunters in Highlander: The Series are renegade members of The Watchers who want every Immortal dead. The reason they're successful is because they hunt in groups, while Immortals are required to duel each other one-on-one. Additionally, being Muggles, the Hunters aren't required to follow the "holy ground" rule. Also, Immortals can sense each others' presence, but they can't sense regular humans except by the normal mundane means. The common tactic is to shoot the Immortal first. Then, when he's incapacitated, either behead him or put him into a guillotine. If there are no other Immortals in the vicinity, then there won't be a Quickening.
  • One of the conflicts in season 10 of Smallville is the political implications of superpowered individuals, which culminates in Congress passing the Vigilante Registration Act in an emergency session. Of course, the real movers and shakers behind it are Darkseid's followers, who are trying to take the Justice League out of the equation. The act is eventually repealed.

    Podcasts 
  • The third host of Plumbing the Death Star, Jackson, is a big proponent of genocide for Mutants, Wizards, and basically anything more powerful than a normal human. He explicitly denies any comparison to real racism when Adam calls him a Nazi for it in "How Dare Wizards?!", since normal minorities, unlike superhumans, can't do as much damage as a nuclear missile.
    "Minorities are not like 'Guess what? I can mind wipe you, torture you, mind wipe you again, make you shit your pants on purpose, mind wipe you, and then kill you,' they're just like 'We're existing.' It's very reasonable to kill all wizards!"

    Tabletop Games 
  • Aberrant:
    • Those unable to become Novas usually fall within two camps: adoring fans or xenophobic champions of genetic purity. Since there's actually no way of telling whether a particular human is able to erupt (become a Nova) or not, a small minority try to provoke their eruption in various ways. Since lethal hazards can give you powers to survive those hazards, you can imagine how they go about this.
    • Within the Abberant setting, one of the strongest of these factions is the fundamentalistic religion-based Church of Archangel Michael, which publicly denounces Novas as agents of Satan and has dedicated training projects to turn the faithful into assassins and terrorists directed at the Novas.
  • Paranoia secret societies include the mutant supremacist group Psion and the mutant-hating group Anti-Mutant. Of course all of this is just a farce, because every person in the setting — other than the theoretically subservient AIs — is a mutant... and everybody seems to know it... except for the all-seeing, all-knowing Computer which designates mutants as inferior, genetically treasonous creatures.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, "psykers" are considered tools rather than people. Understandable, since it's best not to get attached to someone who has the potential to accidentally open a gateway to Hell. (This is not exaggeration)
  • Unknown Armies discusses what happens when the supernatural element is scared senseless of breaking the masquerade. They liken the supernatural elements to being worst enemies trapped in a room with a sleeping tiger — if they fight and wake the tiger up, they're both dead. Maintaining the masquerade is necessary just to stay alive, and the rules feature a complete discussion of just how screwed you are if you're the one to wake the muggles up. (Imagine a soccer riot or worse with you as the object of its fury.)
  • There was a similar vein in the World of Darkness, but as the setting developed it fell to the background as the masquerade became an Extra-Strength Masquerade as each splat book kept upping the supernatural ante yet the muggles never caught on. Still, regardless of which game you played, your superiors have a healthy fear of muggle rage, and if that meant putting you in a body bag, so be it.

    Video Games 

    Web Original 
  • In the Whateley Universe, "Humanity First!" is a world-wide grass roots anti-mutant organization (with backing from the richest family on earth), and the more radical members have tracked down and murdered new mutants.
  • Global Guardians PBEM Universe: TAROT funds a lot of anti-superhuman "grassroots" organizations, and bribes politicians worldwide to legally restrict superheroes. The ultimate goal, of course, is to make it harder for the heroes to interfere with their operations, but a side effect is a growing hostility in some quarters between normal human beings and supers.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Being the only human member from the main cast without superpowers back in the actual DSBT, this was the entire reason Asia was given powers in the first place.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Family Guy Superhero Episode, the Griffins abuse their powers to exploit the general populace, inspiring a comically poor attempt by Mayor Adam West to get his own powers by replicating their nuclear origin. It just ends up giving him lymphoma. The crazy part is this actually succeeds at stopping the Griffins, because seeing how desperate they made him causes a Heel Realization.
  • Justice League Unlimited: The second season deals with the US government's efforts to build a force capable of stopping the JLU in the event they go rogue. Naturally, they end up going the route of the Well-Intentioned Extremist and a bit of Jumping Off the Slippery Slope when their efforts includes such things as creating Tyke Bomb Super Soldier clones with a shelf life shorter than a decade, trusting Lex Luthor and other super criminals, as well as turning JLU member Captain Atom against Superman. The pilot of JLU specifically says that the non-super Green Arrow is a member specifically to call them on abuses of power.
  • The Legend of Korra begins with the main character having to deal with a violent uprising of people who can't bend the elements, and so use technology, martial arts, and superior numbers to threaten the democratic government of Republic City. While these "Equalists" are essentially terrorists who simply turn oppression on benders, it is shown that non-benders have less economic opportunity and social clout than benders (all five people on the city council are part of the bending minority). Their cause is only further legitimized when the city council approves measures to cut off power to the non-bending ghetto and to arrest non-bending civilians without trials.
  • Princess from The Powerpuff Girls wanted to be a Powerpuff Girl, but she didn't have any powers, so she gets technology that imitates their powers. Blossom outright tells her that her problem isn't lacking the powers, it's that she's a spoiled, selfish brat who doesn't want to be a Powerpuff Girl because she wants to help people, but because she just wants to be one for the sake of wanting it.
  • On Sabrina: The Animated Series, Tim the Witch Smeller has a murderous hatred for witches because he grew up mocked for being a Muggle Born of Mages, apparently a unique case in this series.

Alternative Title(s): What Measure Is A Non Super, What Measure Is A Human

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