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You Rebel Scum!

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Imperial Officer Renz: You rebel scum!
Han Solo: Scum?
Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi

A villain of the series who is nominally an authority figure (especially one known for self-righteous priggishness), or a minion of said authority figure, captures the heroes, usually in some criminal (or at least 'anti-social') act, can't let it go without declaring 'You filth!' or some similar self-righteous epithet. Used to underscore the opinion of the law and most ordinary citizens that the heroes are Always Chaotic Evil even though the audience knows that they are really heroes. Of course, if The Heroes actually are evil then such a statement is entirely justified.

A similar sort of remark is almost always made by an underling if the Big Bad has to make a deal with some underhanded or socially outcast allies. If one of the heroes of the series says something like this under those circumstances, it's usually a setup for an An Aesop about tolerance.

See also Defector from Decadence, Rebellious Rebel, Anti-Mutiny, Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Titans in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam are fond of this.
  • The dub Yu-Gi-Oh! GX has Slifer Red students being frequently referred to as "Slifer slime" and "Slifer scum". (In the original, they were mostly referred to as "dropout boys").
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds has Ushio/Trudge, who calls Satellite residents (especially Yusei) "trash" on every occasion. He stops after his Heel–Face Turn.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V Returns to this trend with Sora referring to the Xyz duelist as "Xyz Scum" after his defeat at the hands of Shun in the Youth Championship. Bonus points for actually being part of a rebellion.
  • One Piece: CP9, especially Spandam refers to the Straw Hats as "pirate scum" when they dared to infiltrate Enies Lobby and stand against them and the World Government. Spandam even calls them "tako-pirates" (octopus-pirates) for good measure.
  • The "11s" from Code Geass.
  • The Empire in Legend of the Galactic Heroes refers to the Free Planets Alliance as "Rebels", despite the fact that no FPA planet was ever part of Imperial territory.
  • Some of Fate Averruncus' minions in Negima! Magister Negi Magi, especially Homura and to a lesser extent Shirabe, have this attitude towards Negi's students, pushing that Fate is God's gift to this world and Ala Alba members are less than nothing for opposing his Apocalypse Cult.
  • Food Wars!: When Azami Nakiri takes over Tootsuki Academy and dissolves every organization, Soma Yukihira and the rest of his friends (the Polar Star dorm members, the Nakiri cousins, Ryou Kurokiba, the Aldini brothers, Ikumi Mito, and Hisako Arato) form a group to oppose Central. They're nicknamed "The Rebels", and during the Regiment de Cuisine Urara Kawashima even uses the term in a derogatory manner when she refers to them.

    Comic Books 
  • Maus: During the initial battle for Poland, Vladek is taken as a prisoner of war. After the battle, all the Jews captured during the battle (but not the christian poles) are lined up and shouted at by a Nazi commander who blames the war on the Jews specifically and tells them the German invasion is all their fault.
  • In early Star Wars (Marvel 1977), the Imperials call Rebels "slime-lickers" quite often. Soon enough the Rebels start using that epithet too, though.
  • Ultimate X-Men: When they got free, the guards shout "Freeze, you freaks!" to the mutants.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • The Orcs in The Lord of the Rings seem to use "scum" as their preferred insult. "Maggot" crops up once or twice as well, but only when referring to other orcs who are their direct inferiors.
  • The Animorphs' enemies, the Yeerks, refer to them as "Andalite bandits," "Andalite filth," and "Andalite scum," in that order of frequency. Not knowing the Animorphs' own name for their team, the Yeerks have made "bandits" the standard word they always use to refer to said team. It's so ingrained in some of the Yeerks that the knee-jerk reflex can blow their cover. In one instance Jake blurts out "Andalite scum!" upon seeing Ax in Andalite form, cluing everyone else in that one of their teammates is hosting a Puppeteer Parasite. On the flipside, Andalites (including Ax) are awfully fond of using "Yeerk filth" themselves.
  • The security guard in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. "You scum! You vermin! What do you want to drink?"

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who
    • Parodied in "The Horns of Nimon", with a guard who addresses his prisoners as "Weakling scum!" every single time he speaks to them.
    • Played for drama in "The Caves of Androzani" where characters are described as "filthy swine!" or "base perverted scum!" by villains who are a good deal worse.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Whenever the main characters are captured, a Jaffa or Goa'uld will usually say something like this. Usually involving something like "You dare stand up against your Gods?" The most common response, especially when Jack O'Neill is present, is something to the effect of: "Well, duh!"
    • A more straight example of this trope: every Goa'uld or enemy Jaffa will call Teal'c a "shol'va" (which is Goa'uld for "renegade"). Every one. Without exception. Not that he really objects, and as the Jaffa resistance grows he's still called that, though not in quite the same way....
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer's fourth season, there is a military group called the Initiative. After Buffy and her friends run afoul of them, the military commander refers to them as "anarchists"—a label Riley takes up when he decides his love of Buffy, friendship with the others, and the things he's seen cannot be ignored in favor of his military career.
  • Firefly:
    • In the episode "Bushwhacked", this is the reaction the commander of the Alliance ship has toward Mal and his crew once they arrest them. Aside from the fact that Mal was on the Independents' side of the war, they found a second-generation Reaver on the ship, thinking he was a tortured prisoner, and the commander assumed that because Mal was an Independent, he was a psychotic terrorist, too.
    • In another episode, a belligerent drunk starts insulting Mal for wearing a brown coat and therefore being an Independent sympathizer. Mal's response is to deck him across the face. Apparently he seeks out Alliance bars for this purpose.

  • Although he never actually uses the stock phrase, "you rebel scum," this seems to be how Javert sees the rebels in Les Misérables. To use his own words: "One day more 'til revolution/We will nip it in the bud/We'll be ready for these schoolboys/They will wet themselves with blood."

    Video Games 
  • The same line was used once in StarCraft. Somewhat of a subversion, as the person saying it is an unarmed civilian scientist who immediately gets killed along with his colleagues by said rebel scum.
  • Star Wars: Battlefront II: Imperial officers will occasionally shout "Rebel scum!" in battle. On the other end, rebel troops will occasionally shout "Rebel scum THIS!" when throwing grenades.
  • Various enemy soldiers in Crusader spit out things like "Rebel scum!" immediately before opening fire.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Morrowind, the Ordinators in Vivec, a city which only recently started allowing outlanders to enter beyond the Foreign Quarter, are commonly heard to say things like "We're watching you, scum," and "Move along, scum," to the player. They become nicer to the player if he joins and advances in the Tribunal Temple (who they serve), or if the player otherwise manages to get their disposition up high enough by another means. They'll go right back to being lynchers due to their Knight Templar traits once the player advances far enough in the main question and basically proves to be a heretic to the Temple's teachings.
    • In Oblivion, the guards greet any trouble with "Stop right there, Criminal Scum!", if their disposition is low towards the player. (A lesser variant towards players they otherwise like is "Stop! You violated the law.")
    • In Skyrim, variations of this phrase are thrown by both Imperials and Stormcloaks towards the other.
  • When provinces revolt in Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun, the resultant fighting forces are referred to in-game as "rebel scum."
  • "Rebel curs!" Or "Rebel scum!" is a common exclamation by Palamecian soldiers in Final Fantasy II. This statement might as well be changed to "Game Over."
  • In all games of the Europa Universalis series, rebels could pop up in provinces for various reasons, and until an expansion of the 3rd game differentiated them, they were automatically at war with all countries and actually referred to as "rebel scum".
  • In Homefront: The Revolution, after being captured by Crawford and knocked out VIA Pistol Whip as part of a plan to free Walker, the first thing you awaken to after being thrown in a KPA Holding Cell is a KPA Guard shouting "Wake Up, Terrorist Scum!" while he bangs his gun on the cage wall.
  • Mooks in Red Faction will occasionally yell this at Parker as they open fire on him.
  • In the MMO Dofus, the militia members of the warring cities of Brakmar and Bonta will refer to you along these lines if you speak to them whilst showing the opposite alignment's wings (works like badges, only more feathery).
  • "Filthy Alliance!/Filthy Horde!" is a stock phrase among the players in World of Warcraft. In-game, "Alliance dogs" and "Horde savages" are sometimes used by NPCs. Garrosh Hellscream, Ex-Warchief of the Horde, said many variations of this about the Alliance.
  • In the Exile and Avernum series, Empire soldiers (and sometimes citizens) will refer to Exiles/Avernites as "worms" when provoked, or if they're feeling particularly nationalist.
  • Though not to their faces, Lady Cassandra Mallory makes disparaging remarks about the Rogues in the interactive romance novel, Moonrise.
    Cassandra: Let’s hope for your friend’s sake you haven’t been telling them the Rogues’ nonsense about breaking Masquerade. That group is full of dead fools walking.

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe:
    • Mutants are often referred to as "gene filth" by Humanity First! members.
    • Would-be Knight Templar Pucelle, on seeing that Vamp was meeting with the Bad Seeds, declared that she was obviously drawn to the 'vilest scum' on campus. Jobe replies that the vilest scum on campus is, in fact, in a Petri dish in her lab.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • At the time of The American Revolution, the word "rebel" itself had a purely negative connotation, carrying a stigma similar to that of the word "insurrectionist" or even "terrorist" today. The British referred to the American revolutionaries as "rebels," but the revolutionaries did not refer to themselves as such. In fact, they considered the term "rebel" to be a major insult. Ironically, many modern accounts of the Revolution will refer to the revolutionaries as "rebels," meaning it as a neutral or even positive description.
  • In the party-game "Mafia" (or "Werewolf"), the majority party (whose goal it is to figure out who the Mafia/Wolves are before they are killed) is called "Town" and the minority party (whose goal it is to kill the majority party without being discovered) is generally referred to with the blanket term "Scum". Especially in the more complex games with more than two factions: There, the "mafia" refers to the one specific faction, and "scum" refers to anyone whose win condition is incompatible with the Town's (or, anyone who town has to kill to win). (So mafia members are both mafia and scum, a cultist or Serial Killer is scum but not mafia, and survivors are not town-aligned, but are not scum since they can win with the town.)
  • Muammar Gaddafi and his sons were fond of this, frequently referring to NTC partisans as "rats" and "dogs".
  • Insults like this are a staple of authoritarian regimes, e.g. the Nazis' "Jewish Bolshevists", Soviet Russia's "bourgeois scum", Maoist China's "feudalists" and "capitalist roaders" ('bourgeois' and 'capitalist' having certain connotations in those societies), Brazilian "subversivos" during the Brazilian dictatorship, and so on. It also happens in democratic nations with such insults as “pinko”, “reds”, “commies” and “subversives” being attached to 60s anti-war activists and other Persecuted Intellectuals during the Red Scare.
  • Insulting terms which completely dehumanize the targeted group are often used when genocide is happening and/or being prepared. The Jews were called "rats" during the Holocaust, the Tutsis "cockroaches" during the Rwandan genocide, and the list goes on.


Video Example(s):


Return of the Jedi

[Trope Namer] An Imperial officer says this when the Rebels are captured during their raid on the shield generator.

How well does it match the trope?

4.94 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / YouRebelScum

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