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Playing With / Humanity on Trial

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Basic Trope: An alien race places the entire human race on trial.

  • Straight: Xorbax the Chancellor of The Galactic Federation arrives on Earth to inform humanity that they are on trial for their wicked and unevolved ways.
  • Exaggerate: Xorbax arrives on Earth with the Galactic Federation's Army, informs the humans that they have already been found guilty in a trial they didn't even know about, and proclaims his intentions to kill all humans on Earth.
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  • Downplayed: Being found guilty isn't really all that bad for a race. All it means is that Galactic Federation Peacekeepers will be deployed to the planet to prevent any more violence or environmental destruction while a Galactic Federation Mission will be established to enlighten humanity by teaching them about technology and ethics.
  • Justified: There were already several instances when violent species were given technology too advanced for their own good and either wiped themselves out or even waged a war on the rest of the galaxy. Therefore, the galactic community needs to know for certain whether humans should be uplifted, left to their own devices or wiped out before they become a threat to everyone else.
  • Inverted:
    • Humans decide to put alien races on trial after finding their behavior abhorrent even from their standards of their own historical lows while trying to decide what is the most ethical course.
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    • Humanity in an inferior position calls out alien's misconduct - leading them to depart in shame.
  • Subverted:
    • Upon arriving, Xorbax tells humans that they are extremely violent, destroy their own environment and make terrible reality shows... but then he says that it is only natural for primitive species to act this way and his people have no right to judge humanity for its failings.
    • It turns out the the 'judgment' is an outright imperialistic farce with a deliberate Morton's Fork. Being too much of any extreme be it warlike, scientific advancement pace, or a middle ground even will draw their judgment with a sentence of becoming second-class citizens or being wiped out. The Galactic Federation is just a collective group of arrogant space elves who consider themselves above everyone else, and they have done this to thousands of other species.
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    • There are concerns that the trial will be this, but is more akin to the Nuremberg Trials and explicitly of the former apparatus of power after they started a war they couldn't win as opposed to the bulk of its civilians. At very worst if literally everyone in the government was fully responsible it would only affect 10% of humanity. Mostly it is holding leaders responsible for their travesties, with lesser punishments for those who obeyed orders they knew were wrong - notably duress is held as an absolute defense, and a new government sharply limited in potential for abuse.
  • Double Subverted: ...for being violent that is. Human reality shows are so bad that they have earned humanity the "extermination" verdict right away.
  • Parodied: Humanity is on trial for having collective punishment.
  • Zig Zagged: The "trial" was a Secret Test of Character: when the human representative points out the hypocrisy on display, they've proven themselves to have the critical thinking and courage needed to join the galaxy. Of course, that may or may not be an equally condescending and arrogant "trial" in of itself, with characters debating both possibilities.
  • Averted: Aliens never attempt to judge humanity in such a way. Even the most aggressive aliens are just pushing moral standards in making demands to ban humans' 'barbaric' practices. No trials, just demands from superior forces.
  • Implied: There are mentions of "The Dawn of Judgment" in the past of human history which draws dirty looks or clenched fists from humans whenever anyone brings it up which promptly gets a changed subject.
  • Enforced: The story is an adaptation of colonial influence with the colonizers being colonized by an outside force treating them the exact same way.
  • Lampshaded:
    Advisor: Um, Xorbax, I don't mean to be that guy, but don't you think holding a powerless species uninvolved in intergalactic affairs on life-or-death trial just for mere crimes against itself that don't concern the Federation is, you know, kind of a dick move? We're only just being smug, holier-than-thou bullies by doing so.
    Xorbax: Silence! Don't provoke the writer's wrath by questioning his misanthropic views!
  • Invoked: Xorbax sees humanity as corrupted and gets the idea from browsing human media to try to get their act together.
  • Exploited: The Galactic Federation's policy of subjecting entire primitive races to trial and exterminating those found guilty is used by it's enemies as propaganda to paint the Federation as posturing monsters.
  • Defied:
  • Discussed: ???
  • Conversed: ???
  • Deconstructed: Humanity is found guilty and as a result Earth is wiped out. The only surviving humans, living in space, devote their existence to revenge. They live as a race of scavengers, bandits, and pirates before finally building strength to launch a massive attack on The Galactic Federation and totally dismantle it. Before being executed, the last Federation Chancellor is told by his human executioners that humans would have been friends of the Federation if it hadn't been for the trial.
  • Reconstructed:
    • There is a lengthy discussion about why have a trial in the first place? The purpose wasn't to make humanity suffer - if they wanted that they would use a relativistic asteroid. If it was to take over they would just conquer with superior arms. The point of the trial was to both guide the judge in their decisions and to help humanity reform - along with making sure that their own ideas of right and wrong truly apply in their situation despite first blush. Harsh environments and Bizarre Alien Biology has made some abhorrent behavior the only option for instance.
    • The trial is done in a very "brutalist" way-All humans are counted in the trial, and the final verdict is either a total wipe-out of mankind or a mind-edit on all mankind. This way, the Federation avoids any retribution of mankind because they won't be able to do so (the former just simply make them non-existent; the latter made sure mankind forgot what happened before while "reforming" them).
  • Played for Laughs: Humanity is on trial not for their destructive wars, genocide, torture, or even environmental destruction. Those can happen to the best of them in the eras before intergalactic travel and planetary governance. They are on trial for putting pineapple on pizza.

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