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Playing With / Can't Argue with Elves

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Basic Trope: Elves or a similar 'superior' entity are depicted as being superior to humans in every way (culturally, morally, technologically, etc) and frequently vocalise this fact. The humans are consistently unable or unwilling to object to this.

  • Straight: Among the party of adventurers who form the protagonists is an elf warrior, Avaril. Avaril is much superior in combat and physical ability to his human allies, and frequently raises the fact that elves have a more 'evolved' social system and cultural mores than humans. Kate and George, Avaril's allies, never call him on this.
  • Exaggerated:
    • Literally every single communication between elves and humans consists of the elves delivering a lengthy monologue on how elves are infinitely superior in every way to humans, while the humans just stand there and meekly listen.
    • When the elves or another species bring in unedited evidence that they are objectively and immeasurably superior to humanity beyond time and space, humans are literally incapable of arguing verbally or any other way to oppose them, as the superior species' mere power prevents them from physically speaking to them however they wish, even positively.
  • Downplayed:
    • Elves have a tendency to ramble on, but they are fair to all. Avaril will often include things in these monologues like "Now, the human general Leo once came up with a much better plan for the war than the elves did" and "your style was better than elves for sure, but there are few things i would like to suggest" that show that the elves don't think they are the only ones who can be great.
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    • Avaril snarks a bit about those crazy humans and their love of fire and propensity to wear pants, but overall he acknowledges his companions' strengths and doesn't think that elven morality is superior to that of other races.
  • Justified:
    • Avaril has a point; Humans are or have been bastards in this situation and are to blame for the current crisis, while elf society devotes itself to peace.
    • Avaril is clearly presented as a bigoted, incompetent fool — however, he has very powerful connections and can make things very difficult for Kate and George, meaning that they must hold their tongues during his self-righteous lectures even as they're constantly proving his limited viewpoint wrong.
    • Elves are The Fair Folk, and project a magical glamor that makes arguing against their ways literally unthinkable for all entranced by it.
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    • Elves are the oldest race around, and most elves will admit the reason they're better than everybody is because they had been there, done that, and survived to wear the t-shirt out long ago...and everybody knows it. Either Kate and George know Avaril is normal for elves willing to go adventuring—and they do want to benefit from the lessons the elves learned—or are aware that, actually, Avaril is by elven standards treating them like fellow elves.
    • Elves just made First Contact with races a little while ago. Avaril isn't prepared for the comparative Blue and Orange Morality of his human companions, so of course he thinks poorly of them compared to the only culture he's known for most of his life. Kate and George let it go because they know that Avaril would die for them if need be and he doesn't actually think that humans are weak, just bizarre, and he'll eventually get over it when he gets more used to elven culture not being the only way to do things.
  • Inverted:
    • Avaril is a weak fighter, generally inferior to his human colleagues, and Kate and George spend most of their time telling him how useless he is. Avaril rarely responds.
    • Humanity Is Superior
    • Avaril has a massive inferiority complex; he constantly bemoans the woeful state of Elven society, and Kate and George rarely dispute this.
  • Subverted:
  • Double Subverted:
    • Kate attempts to call out Avaril, but Avaril easily rebuts her points, disarms her in combat and, to add insult to injury, delivers a pointed lecture about how humanity's base impulses towards responding to challenges with violence is so less effective than the way of peace the elves have developed.
    • Kate calls out and defeats Avaril... at which point he seamlessly switches to browbeating everyone with elven moral superiority- after all, only a crude simple human would attempt to resolve an intellectual debate, even one in which she was losing so badly, with brute combat. He wraps up by explaining that he allowed her to win in order to spare her feelings and pointing out numerous flaws in her technique before admitting that with her sub-par human reflexes there's really not much she can do to improve on them. The rest of the party sits by and nods in agreement.
    • Other elves are just more subtle in their arrogance.
  • Parodied:
    • Avaril, like most elves, is vain, self-obsessed and believes in a highly exaggerated (and inaccurate) belief in the abilities and superiority of he and his fellow elves. He (and by extension his fellow elves) are actually very incompetent and flawed, but Kate and George refuse to comment more out of an awkward desire to avoid puncturing his fragile ego and starting a fight rather than sharing his beliefs.
    • Elves are far and away the best species... at gardening. Avaril can't help but lecture his somewhat botanically-ignorant companions about how those are hydrangeas not hibiscus and the proper way to maintain strawberry patches. Kate and George never comment because everyone but the elves realizes that the topic really isn't that important in the grand scheme of things.
    • George and Avaril debate the recent healthcare legislation.
  • Zig Zagged
    • Avaril is self-righteous and elitist; however, after he is called out on this by Kate, he is humbled and makes a genuine effort to reshape his view of the world. However, his years of conditioning are hard to break through, meaning that he will often move between a more humble approach and retaining his arrogant view of the world.
      Avaril: That was a Thunderbolt. See how useless you humans are, without magi... OWW!!!
      Kate: That was a cricket bat. See how useless Fae are when they underestimate humans?
      Avaril: Yeah...
      Kate: So, what did you learn?
      Avaril: Cast Arcane Barrier before monologing.
  • Averted: Avaril and his fellow elves are more or less equal to the other races in the world and act as such.
  • Enforced: Avaril and the elf society is being constructed as a Mary Suetopia reflecting the author's beliefs and ideal view of the world; as such, the author has all the non-Strawman characters bow down to the elf viewpoint because according to the author, the elves are entirely right and as such should naturally be agreed with.
  • Lampshaded: "Ah, so we've reached the part of the evening where Avaril's going to lecture us about how worthless we are compared to him and the other elves."
  • Invoked: Avaril is explicitly included in the party to act as its moral yardstick by the elf high council.
  • Exploited:
    • Kate is well aware of Avaril's monologing. In order to get the big bad to back down, she decides to get Avaril going while the big bad is listening, in order to set up an ambush by George.
    • His allies end up using Avaril's sheer long-windedness and smug condescension bore a villain to death.
  • Defied: Screw You, Elves!
  • Discussed: "Wait... elves exist? I hope they don't think we're inferior or something."
  • Conversed: "Okay, so in every fantasy novel there's always a self-righteous elf lecturing the other characters about how elves are so much better than they are; elves are usually self-righteous, I get that, but you'd think the other characters would at least tell him to shut up every once in a while."
  • Deconstructed:
    • Elf society is hated and feared among 'lesser' races for its arrogance, self-righteousness and elitist viewpoints, but because of their tremendous powers and abilities the other races tend to prefer to live in quiet resentment rather than calling the elves out and risking retribution. However, when the elves do face a threat that they are unable to face alone, their habit of burning bridges due to this self-righteousness comes back to bite them when none of their 'allies' are particularly willing to come to their aid because of it: "If you're so superior, you can take care of this yourselves."
    • Kate and George may not start arguments with Avaril every night over his moralizing, but being constantly told that they're lesser in some way (even when Avaril is sometimes right) irritates them and eventually causes the party to break up at the worst possible time.
  • Reconstructed: For all the obnoxious self-righteousness of Avaril, Avaril is genuinely concerned about the plight of the other races, knowing that his own race did not become supremely awesome overnight. He's trying to impart wisdom brought from hard won experience, and elven society has a kind of bluntness such that he would talk in the exact same manner to a member of his own kind if they were acting out of line. His allies may be aggravated with his delivery, but he brings up enough good points that they know he means well, even if it comes across as a You Are a Credit to Your Race style of patronizing.
  • Played For Laughs:
    • Avaril's self-righteous lectures are clearly transposed against clear demonstrations of his ineptitude and moral fallibility for Hypocritical Humor value.
    • When elves walk, flowers grow at their feet. When they march to battle birds gather round cheering them. When they shoot their bows their bows sing instead of just twanging like a human bow. And when an elf dies in battle, all the ravens come and seeing it is an elf refrain from eating him and lovingly cover him with flowers.
  • Played For Drama: The humans do not argue with the elves because the elves act as an oppressive analogue to a fascist society, and have bombarded the humans with both so much propaganda about elf superiority and harsh punishments for those who speak up and resist that human society is fearful and lacking self-worth.
  • Implied: Elves appear to occupy the top rungs of society, but the story never expands on why this is so.

Well, human, if you still don't understand why we are so much better than you, you had best learn why you Can't Argue with Elves.

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