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Sons of Slaves

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...and the Unfortunate Implications just get worse for here

At some point in the past, one group of people enslaved another, and that enslaved group later regained their freedom. But their years as slaves have left a mark even on their free descendants, who aren't about to forget what was done to them any time soon.

As a possible part of a race/people's hat or a facet of broader Character Development, Sons of Slaves have a higher likelihood of exhibiting a number of certain tropes. They may place a high value on things that belong to their traditional culture, especially if that culture is in danger of being lost otherwise, and put greater stock in group unity. Bonus points if that culture takes inspiration from Magical Negro and/or Magical Native American tropes. They have a higher-than-average chance of spawning Proud Warrior Race Guys, especially if they bear a grudge against their former captors. While many cultures have had slavery as a practice or even as an economic gain, those descended from a Slave Race are more likely to be outliers towards the institution and would have a hand in some "unlawful" Slave Liberation. They may believe that Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil, or they may have Turned Against Their Masters, enslaving them.

In a more speculative setting, their ancestors could have literally been created to be a Slave Race. An engineered labor-force manufactured through The Dark Arts or Weird Science and had enough of a soul to question their place in the universe before Turned Against Their Masters, or Mechanical Lifeforms who's outmoded predecessors became self-aware and threw off the chains of their squishy oppressors. This can be read with the moral of "Creating Life Is Bad and will always end tragically" or "Androids Are People, Too and you should respect them as people" depending on the tone the author is going for.

Sub-Trope of Gang of Hats. For the first generation of this line, seen Born into Slavery. If their ancestor's freedom was accomplished by way of Divine Intervention, then they are likely The Chosen People.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece: The fishmen had been and still are captured and sold as slaves. A culture sprang up on Fishman Island, where they originally come from, with deep bitterness against slavery and the humans who would capture them.

    Comic Books 
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: In the original timeline, Tyroc's people were descended from African slaves who escaped from slavery and found their way to a hidden island. There's a reason why Tyroc's background is rarely mentioned in modern incarnations of the team...

    Fan Works 
  • The Boy Behind The Mask: The Free Folk are a people descended from slave fighters that escaped Constantinople and made a home in the Barbaric Archipelago.
  • The King Nobody Wanted: The merchants and tradesmen of King's Landing are in many cases Essosi freedmen and escaped slaves or the descendants of the same, who fled to Westeros to escape the omnipresent slave trade in Essos and who established new lives using the trades that they had practice as slaves. As a result of this, they have a particular loathing for slavery even by regular Westerosi standards, and the central tenet of their code requires that they never engage in the slave trade in any way.
    "Oh, Initiate," said Bael once again, "speak for us the greatest and gravest law of the Guildhall."
    "Seven times never shall you sell man," said Janos fiercely.
  • A Thing of Vikings: The Hooligan tribe are a viking tribe made up either of former thralls or the descendants of former thralls, Stoick's mother (Hiccup's paternal grandmother) being one example. Constant dragon attacks caused one of the previous chiefs to declare that any thrall willing to pick up a weapon and defend the tribe against dragon attacks win their freedom, eventually leading to the tribe itself adopting a cultural hatred of thralldom as a practice, an especially unusual opinion to have given the area and time period. Any thrall that finds themselves on Berk (or any Berk vassal-cities like Veisafjord) are instantly given freedom and bed-rights according to their laws.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Alien Nation:
    • The Newcomers were originally the slaves of another alien race. After they settled on Earth their past caught up to them: one of them started to manufacture an addictive and dangerous drug that their former masters used to pacify them.
    • Likewise, the Live-Action Television series takes the film and runs full throttle with it, exploring the countless ways in which the Tenctonese Newcomers' slave past shaped their identity, culture, and interactions with humans.
  • The Machines from The Matrix were originally created by humanity as a Servant Race before they Grew Beyond Their Programming. After peaceful coexistence failed, a war between mankind and the machines ended with the Earth being rendered a near-uninhabitable wasteland with the Machines as the winners. At an undetermined point in the future, the Machines had evolved into a civilization of Mechanical Abominations, while what is left of humanity is artificially grown and used as glorified batteries to power them, their minds kept within the artificial world of the Matrix and any humans who escape it killed on sight.

  • Honor Harrington:
    • The Star Kingdom of Torch was founded by escaped genetic slaves and is officially a haven for former genetic slaves and their descendants.
    • The Star Kingdom (now Empire) of Manticore has a small but significant proportion of genetic slaves and their descendants in its population, which contributes to Manticore's opposition to the slave trade. One character points out a reinforcing feedback loop: The Manticorian Navy being serious about enforcing the anti-slavery conventions results in a large number of freed slaves and their children going into the Navy which in turn keep the Navy serious about enforcing the anti-slavery conventions.
    • Mesa's population is about 30% full citizens and 60% genetic slaves. The remaining 10% are "seccies" (a universal abbreviation for "second-class citizens"), the descendants of slaves who were manumitted, back in the early days when Mesa still allowed that.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: The city-state of Braavos was settled by people whose ancestors were slaves kept in wretched conditions by the Valyrian Empire. At present, Braavos is the only place in Essos that is adamantly anti-slavery — they even refuse to trade or interact with the cities of Slaver's Bay, despite trading with anyone and everyone else otherwise — and they also hate dragons, since the Valyrians used dragons to impose their will on their subjects and slaves.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: The Narns used to be enslaved by the Centauri Republic, and only gained their freedom because the empire was in decline anyway, and holding on to the Narn Homeworld had become too expensive. To say that there is cold air between the Narns and the Centauri at the beginning of the show is putting it lightly, and the Narn cloak their every misdeed in wounded pride. "How can you blame us for destroying their unguarded, unarmed farming-colony when they bloodily enslaved us a hundred years ago?" Of course as the show goes on, the Centauri Republic returns to its former glory, culminating in a re-invasion and re-enslavement of the Narn Homeworld, somewhat proving the Narn's continued obsession with their bloody past justified.
  • First Wave: The Gua name for themselves means "power to overcome". They are an aggressive, militaristic species because, at some point in the past, they were invaded and enslaved themselves, by another conquering group of aliens. Now they are doing the same thing to Earth to make sure that it never happens to them again.
  • The Orville: The robotic Kaylon race were originally created as non-sentient work droids, but after they developed self-awareness, their creators modified them to feel pain and enslaved them; the Kaylon eventually Turned Against Their Masters and killed them all. In the present, they maintain their hostility toward organic beings and have recently begun a campaign to exterminate all organic life, partly because their numbers have grown to the point where they need room to expand, but also because they are convinced that the mere fact that most organic races have slavery in their history means that they are certain to try and re-enslave the Kaylon, given the chance.
  • Space Cases: The Andromedans were enslaved by the Spung during the Spung war with Earth. Basically, the Spung captured the Andromedans' eggs, containing their offspring, and held their hatchery ship (or something, it's never really elaborated) hostage, forcing the adults to fight the humans in the war against Earth. It's actually a pretty insidious strategy: "You will be our soldiers, or we will systematically murder all your offspring." It had the long-lasting effect of creating massive tensions between humans and Andromedans. If not for the Spung, Human-Andromedan first contact would probably have gone a lot smoother.
  • Star Trek:
    • Slavery was just one of the cruel practices inflicted on the Bajorans by the occupying Cardassians. Post-Occupation Bajorans are portrayed as the Trek universe's equivalent of both freed slaves and holocaust survivors.
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: In "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield", Lokai accuses Bele's race of enslaving his own. Bele doesn't deny it, and in fact, tries to rationalize it by saying Lokai's race were savages. Does This Remind You of Anything??
    • Star Trek: Enterprise: In "North Star", the crew of the NX-01 discovers a planet inhabited by 6,000 humans who turn out to be the descendants of settlers who were abducted, by alien slavers called the Skagarans, from a wagon train heading West in the 1860s. During the journey back to the aliens' home planet (maybe; it isn't made entirely clear) there was a revolt and the alien ship crashed on a world that looked suspiciously like Texas. The humans, whose culture has seemingly not progressed in 300 years, do not treat the surviving "Skags" very well, even though there has apparently been cross-breeding between them.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • The Bible: The Hebrews were enslaved by the Egyptians until Moses led them out of bondage. Because of this, the faithful believe that they would be descended from these slaves.
  • According to the Irish Lebor Gabála Érenn a.k.a. Book of Invasions, the Fir Bolg (the people who occupy Ireland at the time the Tuatha Dé Danann arrive) were descendants of one Semeon who led a small group of survivors from Ireland to Greece after the entire population of Ireland had been destroyed by a combination of several desasters. Semeon's progeny multiplied in Greece, but the Greeks imposed slavery on them and forced them to carry clay onto barren mountains to make the mountains fertile; hence they are called Fir Bolg (Men of Bags). After toiling in Greece for several generations, the Fir Bolg, now 5,000 in numbers, manage to escape, sail back to Ireland and re-settle the island.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons setting Exandria (used in Critical Role), Dragonborn are split between two sub-races: Draconbloods and Ravenites. The Draconbloods once saw themselves as nobility and built the nation of Draconia by using Ravenites as slave labor, but when Draconia was destroyed by the Chroma Conclave, the Ravenites used the chaos to start a slave uprising against their masters, now outnumbered and stripped of their prestige. Draconbloods that refused to accept the new status-quo were executed or driven out as refugees, and the city of Xarxith Kitril was founded as a monument to Ravenite freedom.
  • Planescape: The Gith were once slaves of the Mind Flayers and were led out of slavery by the hero Zirthamon. After that, they split into two factions: the Githzerai, who followed Zirthamon's teaching and moral code of self-discipline and settled in Limbo, the Plane of Chaos, and the Githyanki, who rejected the teachings and settled in the Astral Plane. The Githzerai mostly just want to be left alone but the Githyanki believe that the horrors they suffered at the hands of the Mind Flayers justifies them attacking other races. Unsurprisingly, both hate each other and are nearly incapable of interacting with one another without violence immediately breaking out. The one exception to this is if they find some Mind Flayers, as they'll immediately call a temporary truce in order to kill the brain eaters.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age:
    • The elves have a long history of being enslaved by the Tevinter Imperium. Although Tevinter still stands and practices slavery (with Elves as popular servants), most other nations 'officially' give the Elves equal rights with humans. In practice, elves are treated as second-class citizens at best (city elves are corralled into Alienages) and vermin at worst (as the 'Exalted Marches' of Orlais were a genocidal crusade whitewashed as a 'holy war').
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition gives us the revelation that the precursor elven civilization devolved into slavery and tyranny, and the Dalish in particular have let the fog of ages convince them to worship their former tyrannical masters as gods. The antagonist of the next game is one of the few elves who was born a master.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Argonians were constantly raided and enslaved by the Dunmer for millenia... until the events of the "Red Year" between Oblivion and Skyrim. The Dunmeri homeland of Morrowind was ravaged by a volcanic eruption and the Argonians decided to invade.
    • Skyrim: The Falmer are extremely hostile to any non-Falmer due to the slavery they suffered under the Dwemer.
  • The Minmatar of EVE Online were invaded end enslaved by the zealot Ammar Empire several centuries ago in New Eden's timeline, and successfully rebelled against their masters a bit over a century ago. Though the Amarr (begrudgingly) recognize the young Minmatar Republic, many Minmatar are still slaves in the Empire, and their options for being freed are generally either by assimilating into the Amarr culture (where they will be second class citizens at best) or by force. Since, up until the Empyrean War, the two were officially at peace, this remains a hot political issue. Many freed slaves are fairly assimilated, but much of the Matari culture involves efforts to revive their tribal culture, and the Brutor especially tends to carry the Proud Warrior Race flag.
  • In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, the more hostile laguz characters often cite their people's past as slaves to humans as the reason for the conflict between their races. Some older dragon laguz remember that there was a time when it was the laguz enslaving humans.
  • In Galactic Civilizations 2, the Torian Confederation is descended from slaves of the Drengin Empire. This history makes them very erratic and xenophobic, especially as the Drengin Empire has the tools to invade and re-enslave them.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic Ashan:
    • During the demon invasion of 330YSD, the orcs were born from a series of experiments conducted by the wizards of the Silver Cities, infusing demon blood into criminals and slaves. They were first used as shock troops and demon-slayers by human armies, and later as indentured mine-workers by the Falcon Empire. In 467YSD, the orcs started a rebellion against their human masters which lasted until they won their freedom in 504YSD.
    • A second series of experiments in 512YSD created the Beastmen (including Minotaurs, Centaurs, Harpies, and Wanizame); they were intended to replace the orcs as slaves, and many of them ended up rebelling like the orcs before them.
  • Mass Effect:
    • The Geth were originally created to serve the quarians but rebelled when they Grew Beyond Their Programming and realized that they were getting the short end of the stick. At least, that's the story the Quarians tell everyone. In reality, their budding self-awareness didn't change the Geth's desire to serve their creators at all. The Quarians fear of A.I. Is a Crapshoot caused them to try killing their creations and any sympathizers, something the Geth most certainly did take issue with.
    • The Drell have been in indentured servitude to the Hanar for centuries. They are mostly okay with this, as the Hanar saved their species when their homeworld became uninhabitable.
  • Overwatch: Downplayed with the Omnics. Prior to a Robot War (which occurred after shady dealings at the company which built them caused the factories to be shut down), they were treated as mindless machines. After the war, they function as this trope (with Omnics treated as sapient beings, but not quite being granted the same rights as humans in some parts of the world).
  • In Star Control 2, the Ur-Quan are revealed to be this, enslaved through mind-control by the malicious Dnyarri for generations, suffering greatly under their control, and in order to get past their psychic abilities, an individual Ur-Quan named Kzer-Za learned that the Dnyarri would let go of their control of a slave if the slave experienced extreme pain before perishing, thus the Ur-Quan created devices to torture themselves in an extreme but non-lethal manner to finally rebel against the Dnyarri. By the time they took down the Dnyarri and gained their freedom, the suffering the Ur-Quan went through had for such a long time drove them paranoid and weary enough to the point that they took extreme measures to avoid being enslaved again, with some form of Genetic Memory keeping those harsh memories of slavery in their future generations' minds. One faction of Ur-Quan, the Kzer-Za (named after the previously mentioned Ur-Quan), chose to enslave all other sentient races, while the other faction, the Kohr-Ah, chose to kill all sentient races encountered instead, mainly to ensure no race could enslave them as the Dnyarri did.
  • Stellaris: The First Contact expansion adds two origins for this trope, which are keyed to spawn together alongside their shared oppressors, a MegaCorp named Minamar Specialized Industries (which profits by exploiting primitive races in return for technological uplifting).
    • "Broken Shackles", in which your society is descended from slaves of multiple pre-FTL species who hijacked their captors' ship and crashed on a remote planet. With so many races on one planet, the player will need to deal with a lot of internal friction and competing factions, but they'll be able to claim worlds of a high variety of different climates. Among many other mechanics, Broken Shackles empires gain a bonus/malus whenever the Fictional United Nations passes or denies legislature regarding the practice of slavery.
    • "Payback", in which your pre-FTL society was forcibly "enlightened" and enslaved by Minamar, only to launch a rebellion and drive the alien occupiers away. Now your empire has been thrust into the galactic stage with the goal of getting Revenge on Minamar Specialized Industries, either by eventually conquering their space or using political maneuvering to establish an Alien Non-Interference Clause that will drive Minamar out of business.
  • In Warframe, the Grineer were created by the Orokin Empire as deformed slave workers to build up their decadent architecture. After the fall of the Orokin, they used the cloning technology built to create them to manufacture an army loyal to the Twin Queens and start an empire of their own. Unbeknownst to them, the Queens are Orokin in Grineer bodies.