Humans Are the Real Monsters

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"Beware the beast Man, for he is the devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport, or lust, or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him. Drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death."

For cynics, human history isn’t exactly all that wonderful and cheery. Throughout the ages, human civilizations have been primarily motivated by both viciousness and greed, having fought countless wars, colonized lands that were already inhabited by other people, treated those inhabitants as second-class citizens (at best), sold them into slavery or just slaughtered them (at worst), and stripped lands bare of their precious minerals and resources for their own wealth and benefit.

Now? Just wait until we get the hang of intergalactic space travel and discover other sentient races with land, natural resources, and technology of their very own!

Humans Are the Real Monsters is a Speculative Fiction trope where humanity’s Hat is defined by, or viewed by extra-terrestrial races (or other Fantasy races) as humanity’s most violent characteristics and most nefarious motivations. "The Age of Imperialism IN SPACE with humanity as the Evil Empire." if you prefer.

In a distinct contrast to humans, alien races which humans impose themselves onto are either sufficiently advanced enough that anything they could ever want or need is immediately made available to them (thus making greed and violence sound redundant to them) or have achieved a state of equilibrium with their surrounding environment which leaves them perfectly content. Either way, this generally gives an alien race a more empathic or more peaceful outlook and worldview than what humans understand and seek to attain. If these alien races ever attack humans, it will likely be either a reactionary measure to a previous transgression on the humans' part against them or a preemptive strike out of fear that humans will cause them harm at the first opportunity they get. In the event that enough of the galaxy is in a panic over humanity, they may even form an Anti-Human Alliance and possibly put Humanity on Trial.

This trope generally comes in two distinct varieties, but the basic point is the same.

  • Humanity in the future is an Evil Empire characterized by a vast military complex with goals typically involving colonizing planets where other sentient alien races are already residing with plans to subjugate and/or exterminate those who already call the place home and extract any minerals and resources present for all their worth, or…
  • Sentient aliens come to Earth in peace, but humanity seeks to take advantage of them in an effort to acquire and learn more about their technology for humanity’s own gain.

In all cases, humanity will definitely show characteristics of the Absolute Xenophobe to one degree or another; no matter how sincerely an alien race may state its intentions to do good or seek peace, human authority will treat the aliens as an enemy that is not worth our attention as being viewed as equals.

On a lesser scale, human individuals, like Con Men, may try to swindle clueless aliens who don’t know much at all about Earth and take advantage of them. These steps usually involve the human fraudulently representing himself as a leader, dignitary, or benefactor from Earth before scamming any aliens who believe him for all they are worth.

Any human characters who sympathize with the aliens and take their side are usually people who have been mistreated by or subjected to the abuses of humanity’s status quo in the past (Mutants are very a popular choice for this), or normal people who have been thrust into an un-ordinary situation that causes them to view things from a different perspective and challenge their originally held notions about the actions of their human comrades and superiors.

Do note that any humans who are monsters are humans who commit evil willingly and knowingly. When humans are heavily blamed for doing bad things but are not aware of the full consequences of their actions, this is something that can be attributed to thoughtlessness, rather than maliciousness, and for that, see Hanlon's Razor.

When aliens come to Earth and view humanity’s history of violence against one another as a matter of uncivilized, primal savagery, that’s Humans Are Morons.

When a story is told from an animal's perspective as it watches humans abuse Earth's own environment and/or the animal kingdom, that’s Humans Are Cthulhu.

When humans are doing anything else that is unfavored by sentient races, see Humans Are Flawed.

In political works, this trope may be invoked to argue that Hobbes Was Right.

Note: when a Villain holds a Humans Are The Real Monsters viewpoint, it's usually reserved for Nietzsche Wannabes, Well Intentioned Extremists and Knights Templar; it wouldn't really work if the villain in question is already a crazy maniac who just wants to kill people unless the point is to make them a Hypocrite.

See Also: Humans Are Warriors, Humanity Is Superior, Humanity Is Insane, Humans Kill Wantonly, What Measure Is a Non-Human? and Humans Are Morons.

Compare: Crapsack World, where the other species probably won't be any good either.

Contrast: Humans Are Special, Humans Are Good, Aliens Are Bastards.

Examples of Humans Are the Real Monsters include:

Anime and Manga

  • Dragonball Z had an entire episode called The Evil of Men near the middle of the Buu saga. Essentially, it explores how even we, the normal, non-powerful humans can be just as cruel as the monsters Goku and co fight on a regular basis. Case in point: A gang of thugs arrive to shoot up Buu and Mr. Satan (who is in the process of rehabilitating Buu) and end up shooting Bee the puppy. Later, one of them comes back and shoots Mr. Satan point blank in the back and runs off. Sure Buu managed to save him in time (and saved the puppy in the first attack), but witnessing this cruelty literally caused him to unleash his evil side, and thus, the entire rest of the Buu saga is the world paying the price for what those men did.
  • Elfen Lied makes a point of showing how inhuman and amoral almost every human seems to be. At times it seems the diclonii—mutants who are feared for their murderous tendencies, and abused accordingly—are more human than the actual humans.
    • Considering the violent psychic dismemberment the diclonii are capable of, that's saying something.
  • In marked contrast, Studio Ghibli's Pom Poko is a subversion. Some fans call it "Fern Gully with a Brain". Some of the Tanuki believe that all humans are bad and they argue for open warfare against the humans - and even then, they have a hard time fully committing to this as finding food would be a great deal harder with no garbage bags to rummage through. Other Tanuki argue that the humans are simply unaware that Tanuki are real and can be reasoned with. After the Tanuki take the gamble of going public, it turns out that this is indeed the case and the humans are happy to come to a compromise with the creatures, setting aside parkland for them to live in. Of course, the fact their default humanoid forms are cute looking is a real help.
  • Similarly, Princess Mononoke (also by Studio Ghibli) appears to be taking this stance, as it also takes place in a threatened forest populated by animal spirits. But then it turns out that the humans aren't all bad, and the animals can be pretty dickish. Then it turns out every side was being manipulated by outside forces, who in their own way are just trying to get by, ultimately stating that Rousseau Was Right.
  • Spirited Away features a bath house that serves supernatural beings whose view of humans ranges from worthless to bastards to interesting to delicious. That the bath house's workers need to take human form in order to serve their customers can be seen as punishment, irony, or subversion. It also goes both ways - a few spirits are greedy or decadent.
  • Ponyo's dad makes it very clear that he thinks humans are bastards, and has been storing up potions to teach humanity a lesson (or something); ironically, his wife, the Anthropomorphic Personification of the ocean is a lot more easy-going. In the end he reveals he doesn't really want to harm humans too badly because he allows his daughter to choose to become one.
  • Blue Gender serves this up with a side of Broken Aesop: Man is ruining the planet due to technological excess and overpopulation, and so nature sends the Blue to forcibly knock humanity back to the Stone Age (Or at least the Bronze). The problem: At the time of the show's events, humanity knows it's ruining the planet and is trying to fix things... an effort Gaia is actively sabotaging with The Blues, to the point where the effort to build a colony ship (to ease the overpopulation) are destroyed. The Aesop being that Humans can live in harmony with nature, as long as they're not abusing tech. Arguably an inversion of the trope.
  • The manga series Parasyte seems to believe in this Trope so much that the only way that the horrible damage humans wreak on the environment can be lessened is for nature to introduce a new apex predator to the biosphere to keep humanity in check.
  • In One Piece, while slavery affects all species/races, fishmen and merfolk are the prime target and face very heavy discrimination. Up to 200 years ago, they were seen as just another type of fish.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho. While this is somewhat seen in the Dark Tournament (Thanks Sakyo, and your unholy plan to change the ecosystem!), the Chapter Black expands upon this to a new level. Sensui, the latest villain, was actually a Spirit Detective who fought for mankind and held Humans and Demons in views of black and white, until he crashed a gruesome party that had Humans themselves slaughtering Demons and bathing in their blood for the hell of it. Because of this, his view became gray, until he saw the Chapter Black videotape- a divine recording of nearly every atrocity humanity had ever committed; you name it, it's got it, which then had him harboring a plan to go to the Demon World and repent for his killings, conveniently covered up with the Split Personality disorder he got as an aftereffect of the party and the tape to orchestrate a slow, painful genocide for all of humanity to experience. This is evidenced by a mere creepy mind-reading with him chanting about how much he'd love to have them all as dead meat.
    • Subverted: Koenma points out there is a Chapter White which has every act of human kindness, the two are about the same length and should only be seen together to ascertain a balanced view of humanity. Since Chapter Black is "just a one-sided argument"
  • The Big Bad in Soul Taker, Kyosuke's sister Runa feels this way after bad stuff happened. In the end, the villain puts Kyosuke in a bind: fight to save humanity who are ungrateful bastards and hate him since he's technically an alien or let them all die and live happily and eternally with said Big Bad. Kyosuke naturally turns both offers down, takes a third option, shows the villain that there IS measure to a non-human and saves the day.
  • This is what Friendly Neighborhood Vampire Moka Akashiya first thought of humans before she met her human Love Interest. After seeing how she was teased and bullied because of her vampire origins when she was a kid, who could blame her? Ruby and her adoptive mother thought this as well.
    • In fact, this seems to be a rather widespread sentiment among Youkai, though most of it stems from good ol' Fantastic Racism; many of the more sympathetic ones question their views after being confronted with a positive example of humanity, and the most rabid anti-human faction practice their puppy-punting skills on their fellow nonhumans so much that they come off as blatant hypocrites.
  • Rau Le Creuset from Gundam Seed believes that humans are selfish greedy bastards who will do anything to get ahead even if it means slowly wiping themselves out in the process, and justifies this viewpoint with both Kira's existence and his own existence as both were born through genetic manipulation and cloning respectively; this belief is also what drives him to want to wipe out humanity entirely taking the "I'm Taking You with Me" ethos to its extreme logical conclusion.
    • The scary part? The show universe itself is so chock full of bigots and assholes he's doesn't really look all that incorrect! In fact, considering all the racism and blind hatred fueling the wars (which both sides are aware of and DEFEND as virtuous, especially at their highest levels of authority), he really has a very good claim for arguing his point is pretty valid, and this is what motivates the antagonist from the sequel to enact a plan to prevent such things from happening again, because he agreed humans became bastards as a result of said hatreds.
  • The protagonist of Wolf Guy Wolfen Crest thinks humans are bastards or at least incredibly petty; it doesn't help that he's a certified Doom Magnet and he's surrounded by the most horrific Delinquents at school. Subverted when he acknowledges that his narrow view of humans makes him just as bad.
  • A main theme point in Inugami, where inugami (wolves with amazing abilities) are sent by a mysterious voice in their heads that says "gaze upon man". An inugami named 23 makes friends with a kind human named Fumiki, and his subsequent encounters with humans influences him into seeing humans as friends. The other inugami, Zero, sees humans as an example of this trope, since most of his encounters with them have involved being shot by hunters for fun, being subdued by police officers without provocation, and destroying Earth's environment. 23 also beings to feel doubt for humans when he fights and kills a mutated dog driven insane by animal experimentation. This momentary thought, combined with Zeros, summons a horrifying creature that appears killing anyone it encounters.
  • This is Lance's main motivation in Pokémon Special.
    • When Lake Valor gets blown up, most of the Pokémon in the surrounding areas adopt this attitude as a result. When Pearl tries to catch a pissed Buizel and unsuccessfully pleads to it that he wants to stop the ones responsible, Crasher Wake points out that the wild Pokémon don't understand anything that's going on beyond the fact that they know that humans were responsible for disrupting their natural habitat.
    • Episode 19 of Pokémon has a group of Tentacool, one of them happening to evolve after Team Rocket tried to capture them, that attacked the humans because Obaba (not to be confused with the one from the episode before this one) wanted to build a hotel resort where their nest is. However, Misty, with the help of a Horsea, manage to convince them that not all humans are bad people.
  • Slayers usually don't mess with it, but in Slayers Premium people scream at their kin affected by that curse while knowing what's going on, and later...

Lina: Aren't the octopi getting the short end of the stick here?

    • Explanation provided: the assistant healer had, after the demon that the octopi had been mistakenly worshiping as a god is destroyed, admitted to the whole town that they were wrong to hunt the sentient sea-going cephalopods and eat them. However, she then declared that the town's economy was mostly built on their reputation for delicious octopus-based dishes, and suggested that, rather than having the humans go on hunting and eating octopi, the octopi just start cutting off their tentacles (which regenerate) and letting the humans have them for meat instead, a suggestion that the octopi agreed with.
  • Lampshaded heartwrenchingly at the end of the Kikaider 01 OVA where the android Kikaider "takes the final step to humanity" by becoming capable of performing evil acts despite his conscience. The fact that the story also supposedly parallels Pinocchio also gives it a sick twist.
  • Soukou no Strain has the revelation that humans discovered a race of aliens who share a Hive Mind unaffected by time and distance...and decided to hack them up without anesthetic (because nothing they had worked on the aliens) in order to use their brains for instant interstellar communications. And their Hive Mind meant they all felt it. Discovering this is what makes Ralph Werec undergo his Face Heel Turn; when his sister Sara and her allies learn the same, they're horrified but don't share Ralph's Kill All Humans attitude.
  • This is how Johan Liebert views humanity. He believes that all you need to do is add a little fuel to the fire and humans will destroy each other through hatred. Of course, even if you agree with him, he is DEFINITELY the biggest bastard of them all.
  • In Durarara!!, Izaya has it that the the whole of humanity are self-obsessed, stupid, hypocritical, hateful, contradictory, destructive little bastards—which is exactly why he loves humans.
  • This is how Diva views humanity in Blood Plus. Well, you would think the same thing if you were used as a lab rat.
  • Subverted in Kimba the White Lion. While the series started off with a terrible first impression of humanity with Viper Snakely, there are some good-hearted humans like Roger Ranger and his uncle who become friends with Kimba.


Comic Books

  • "Funny Animal" Comics in particular tend to be lousy with this trope. To wit:
    • The main villain Lord Hikiji in the comic Usagi Yojimbo is the only human in a world of anthropomorphic animals. He's the reason Usagi has that scar above his eye, and has no master, no father, and ninja problems.
      • There's actually been a grand total of one other human in the comic, but she turned out to be a bloodthirsty feline monster in disguise and was killed off in her first appearance. So, yeah. Not exactly human-positive.
      • Not entirely true. One other human appeared for a grand total of one panel as a Shout-Out to one of the author's favorite comics.
      • Wait, Groo counts as human?
      • Word of God states that the author kind of regrets showing Hikiji.
    • Similarly, antagonist Doctor "Eggman" Robotnik was the only human in Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog series for a while, and even today most games place his role in the storyline above all the other law-abiding humans.
  • In an early issue of Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing, Jason Woodrue gains Swamp Thing's power over the Green and decides to take its revenge on animals and humans, who have been abusing plants for far too long. Then Swamp Thing himself shows up and points out that, although humans do abuse nature a bit, if humans and animals were gone, there wouldn't be anybody to convert the gases that the plants themselves needed to survive.
  • Humans in Elf Quest are, at first, simply The Enemy as far as the elven protagonists are concerned: cruel, idiots, ugly, superstitious and xenophobic, and they've been like this as long as any Wolfrider can readily remember. (To be fair, they're also still very much in the stone age at that point and that generation of Wolfriders hasn't gotten around much.) This is later qualified when greater exposure introduces them to the concept that some humans can actually be friendly (and the Gliders have basically a tribe of 'tame' humans living at the foot of their mountain), but by and large the elven policy remains to keep avoiding human attention where possible.
    • Interestingly enough, the creators of Elf Quest first got together when Richard Pini replied to a letter by Wendy Fletcher in Silver Surfer, in which she complained about that comic's supposed use of this trope. The two of them corresponded for a while before finally meeting and marrying, and the rest is history.
  • Given that the average human in the Marvel Universe seems to look at (and treat) mutants with the same level of rationality and compassion that the white Southerners of the 1930's treated blacks, or, as Magneto often lampshades, like how the Nazi Party in Germany treated Jews in 1938, it's no wonder why mutants continue to flock to Magneto's camp, even after the man has been depowered.
  • Handled...interestingly in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog series. The Mobius equivalent of humans, Overlanders, were portrayed as violent thugs, more interested in conquering and destroying nature than living with it like the wonderful, peace-loving Mobians. They also waged a global war against the Mobians...which they lost. Badly. Somewhat subverted, in that it was a Mobian conspiracy that started the Great War. Most of the race was then destroyed right after Robotnik (who even the Overlanders viewed as a monster) took over. And just when the comic was moving away from this trope, we learn that Mobius was created when our humans captured, killed and dissected alien emissaries. The aliens reacted poorly to this, and proceeded to use a weapon to wipe out/mutate all life on Earth.
    • Though it should be noted that ever since the Sonic Adventure adaptation, Overlanders/humans have been shown in a bit of a better light.
  • In the comic book adaptation of the Dofus game, the race of Demons were a mostly Punch Clock Villain Evil race, until a pair of human brothers (orphans whose parents were murdered, and spent years as victims of abuse by their peers and teachers afterward) made their way to their dimension, and introduced the Demons to such concepts of human evil as murdering parents before their children and other such cruel torments. The Demon King was ashamed to see that humans could outdo his own kind in the ways of Evil, and ordered the brothers to train his people.
  • A major theme of Wandering Star. The future Earth of the series is a Crapsack World with a reputation for violence. The Galactic Alliance needed Earth to help fight the Bono Kiro because of that unique reputation. Throughout the story, Cassie, the protagonist, encounters prejudice from aliens who see her and all humans as an uncivilized, backward, warlike species.
  • Spider Jerusalem's motto, heck even those characters who can be classified as non-human tend to be assholes.
    • On the other hand...

Spider Jerusalem: Being a bastard works.

  • The reason Larfleeze hasn't left Earth after Blackest Night is because Lex Luthor told him that humans are greedier bastards than he could ever hope to match, and that life on Earth is all about owning things. After spending more time on Earth, Larfleeze has come to agree with Luthor...and he loves Earth for it.
  • In Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers, it's revealed that the cruel and vicious Sheeda, who decimated the utopian civilization of Camelot millions of years in the past and who are the Big Bad of the series, are evolved humans from the far, far future when the sun has turned into a red giant. To sustain their own dying society, they plunder past civilizations.
  • Zigzagged in Crossed, whose moral seems to be that while we are not all bastards, we all have the potential to be bastards, with the protagonist pointing out that however horrible the Infected are, they never do anything that ordinary humans cannot also do. Surprisingly thought-provoking, given that this is a series that's pretty much nothing but Gorn.
    • The two sequel series (be afraid...) rather confirm this, each having a non-infected human that gives the Crossed a run for their money in the sick bastard department, without the excuse of having caught a psycho-virus.


Fanfiction

  • Humanity and all of its sub-species in Aeon Natum Engel.
  • In The Return this is humanity's hat, their defining quality, and why they're still alive.
  • In general, almost every My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Fanfic that involves humans features this trope in one way or another. Even if the humans aren't actively malevolent, they'll still be brooding over how embarrassed they are of humanity's evil, or even become an unwitting gateway through which evil and corruption enters the pony universe.
    • In one series titled The Conversion Bureau it's flat-out stated that the ponies, both those born as ponies and the 'converts', teach this constantly to the humans they're trying to recruit into their oh-so-superior culture and race. It is all very Anvilicious. It also leads to the rather obvious problem of, if Equestria is a utopia and humans are all evil monsters, then why do the ponies WANT us to become part of the herd?
    • Another fic, The Thessalonica Legacy, subverts this nicely. The humans are violent, warlike, and sometimes outright murderous compared to the ponies, but it's because they had to be in order to survive their harsher universe, putting them more in Humans Are Flawed territory than here.
    • Article 2 averts this. Although humans seem more aggressive and rude then the ponies, this is treated as different cultures and neither is shown as superior. It is also pointed out multiple times that Shane is just one human, a soldier, and in a very stressful situation, so its not really fair to use him as proof of any faults in humanity as a whole.
  • In The Man With No Name, the Doctor goes on one of his famous rants when he finds out what the Alliance did to River's brain.
  • In Renegade Reinterpretations, a Mass Effect fanfiction, the human race's first contact with the wider galaxy happened much earlier, and with the Batarians. Humanity spends the next hundred years playing catch-up, and is only able to survive by becoming a race of total bastards. In this timeline, Cerberus is viewed as heroes for experiments that even the canon Cerberus would be squicked at. At one point, once Humanity decides to go on the warpath against the Batarians (and is capable of doing so), the Citadel offers to make humanity a member race, give them reparations, money, land, medicine, technology, and all former Batarian territory. All they had to do was NOT invade the Batarian Homeworld. Humanity's response? "They went to the trouble of looking up what the largest fleet in the galaxy had been so they could surpass it by a time and a half."
  • In the Jenkinsverse, the races of the galaxy are weak, fragile beings mostly descended from herbivores who regard human beings much in the way that we regard Predators -- as unstoppable, nigh-invulnerable killing machines.

Film - Animation

  • Beauty and the Beast qualifies for this trope in regards to the majority of the Villagers. The Villagers, during the song "Little Town/Belle," outright mock Belle for her interest in reading, a wife was seen beating up her husband, among other things. Then there is their praising Gaston, who is not only a scumbag, but seems to have no problem bragging about it in his character song. It only gets worse when Maurice arrives, as they throw him out and mock him because they think he's crazy (and even if they didn't, they probably would have done it anyways), and going by the final lyrics of the aforementioned character song, they are in full support of Gaston's plan of Blackmailing Belle to marry him by locking him up in the asylum. When it gets to the plan being in place, the villagers were jeering Maurice. At this point, they are straddling between Jerkass territory and Complete Monster territory.
  • Bambi: As a whole, Western Animation with animal characters tends to be bad about this but "Bambi" is the best known example.
    • If you sit down and watch the movie again, "Bambi" is not as bad as some of its successors. For one thing, Walt Disney pointedly refused to make the hunters larger characters because he would have had to show them as two-dimensional villains given their actions.
    • This is even subverted in The Iron Giant. A pair of hunters shoot a deer that the titular Iron Giant had been watching, but they are not characterised negatively at all, and the scene is used to show the Iron Giant first learning about the concept of death.
  • In Dumbo, Dumbo's mom is separated from him and chained up in a cage, all because she gave a bratty human kid a (well-deserved) spanking for harassing Dumbo.
  • Cats Don't Dance is a bit of a parable in which animals are Paper-Thin Disguise minorities trying to break into show business and humans are the racists of Hollywood, keeping them out.
  • Happy Feet has a doubly- Family-Unfriendly Aesop. The penguins think humans are bastards. Fair enough; as stated above, this is typical for sea creatures. Well, then the hero learns later on that humans really are bastards. Once again, although this is a bit warped, we've seen it before. The double-warping comes in the ending, with its giant dance-off. It heavily implies that the only reason the humans are even considering preserving the Antarctic ecosystem is because of its entertainment value.
    • On the other hand, it seemed a lot of the people in the ensuing montage were using it as political ammunition to put conservation laws in effect they'd already wanted.
  • The Movie version of Over the Hedge seems to sum up everything that's wrong with humanity in one word: Suburbia.
    • The comic strip it's based on is pretty much this way too, but moreso. Whereas the movie compresses most of its cynicism into a single sequence (which largely comes off as good-natured ribbing) and one recurring nasty character, the strip has it as a major underlying theme.
  • The rats of Ratatouille believe this, exemplified in Remy's father. Subverted in that Remy thinks his opinion is rubbish and that the humans are just ignorant, since rats have traditionally been pests, and quite a few of the humans aren't bastards.
  • The Secret of N.I.M.H. is pretty harsh in its depictions of humans performing animal experimentation on rodents. Of course, the rodents seem to benefit from it, but then the humans try to track down the now-intelligent rats in order to eliminate them.
    • Which, let's be honest, is what we would do. The last thing, we'd say, that we need out there are even smarter vermin than the ones we already have to deal with as is...
  • Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron depicts a white man owning a wild horse as equivalent to slavery. Seriously. The Native Americans of the same film are shown in a more sympathetic light, but the titular stallion still doesn't like being trained.
  • Unusually for a Western Animation, Finding Nemo takes the misguided point of view. The dentist believes that he has rescued the lame Nemo from the dangers of the reef rather than separating him from his father, and the main antagonist is a slightly hyperactive little girl who simply doesn't realize that if she shakes the bag too hard she'll kill the little fish inside. It's clearly ignorance rather than malice.
  • Some have accused WALL-E of depicting this trope, it's actually partly subverted: Yes, humanity wrecked Earth by turning it into a huge garbage dump, but at the end, humanity (with a little help from the robots) decides to rebuild, and the end credits hint that they succeeded. In fact, the only human who shows even the slightest signs of being a bastard is the Buy 'n Large CEO, and he just didn't know that Earth would be safe to live on again in 700 years. And let's not forget that the antagonist himself is a friggin' robot.
    • The writer of the movie, Andrew Stanton, also insisted that his intent was to tell the story of the last robot on Earth, and the pollution angle was simply a plot device to allow him to do that. Others don't believe him or are oblivious to the actual focus of the plot.


Film - Live Action

  • The Alien series, it's usually the humans' attempts to exploit the aliens for profit that set the plot in motion. In the first film, the Mega Corp expects a crew member to be impregnated. In the second film, Burke tries to impregnate Ripley with an alien. The third film follows as a result of the second, but Company members arrive and try to cash in on the aliens. In the fourth film, it's the military that is tinkering with alien genes to create weapons.

Ripley: "I don't know which species is worse. You don't see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage."

  • James Cameron's Avatar is an almost perfect example of this being both played straight and subverted. The human RDA are intruding on Na'vi land and destroy the home of the Omaticaya tribe in order to acquire Unobtainium, and follow a rigid, aggressive schedule for this. On the other hand, the RDA tries to negotiate with the Na'vi, and even when they do attack they try to be "humane" first (i.e. hitting the Na'vi with gas and trying to intimidate them into leaving) and avoid bombing them from orbit because they want to minimize local casualties. Then the gloves come off, RDA destroys Hometree, killing hundreds of Na'vi in the process. When the Na'vi assemble an army for war, the RDA tries to destroy the Tree of Souls to break their spirit. Selfridge, the corporate head of the RDA, reacts to destroying said sacred Na'vi site with the same apathy that one would associate to accidentally swatting a fly, though he does appear significantly more disturbed when they take down Hometree. In fact, he and the other officials look downright horrified at the violence, and go out gracefully at the end, following the Na'vi victory.
    • This may be a case of humans seeing themselves as the good guys. But when they see the effects of their policies, realize they're not as benign as they thought.
      • They may be horrified, but the sequels mean the humans will be back. The Unobtainium is too valuable for them to just give up.
  • District 9: A ship full of aliens gets stuck on Earth after it breaks down over Johannesburg. Humanity pens them into an apartheid-style concentration camp while the nations bicker over who has to take care of them. Eventually, a Mega Corp is entrusted with the aliens' welfare, and takes control of their ship away from them, arbitrarily restricts their reproductive rights, denies them the use of alien names and exploits the technology on the ship for their own use. Let us list the ways Humans Are the Real Monsters aside from the aforementioned squalid concentration camp and tech stealing:
    • Whenever they find an alien nest in D9, they torch it with a flame thrower and laugh at the popping noises that the alien larvae make as they boil.
    • They set up a firing range and they shock the main character (who is the only human who can use alien tech) to get him to pull the trigger on the gun they strap him to. They then bring in a new alien gun and repeat the process many, many times in order to test the effects of each weapon. Cries of "I'll pull it! I'll pull it!" are ignored, and they never once see if he'll keep his word and pull it without the shocks.
    • The MNU literally uses the aliens as target practice. They test weapons against living aliens to judge their effectiveness.
    • They spread Blatant Lies about the aliens that most people take at face value. One being that the aliens don't care for their young. They love them just like a mother loves her child Have a poor grasp on the concept of property It has more to do with the fact that most of them are starving, and actually they do seem to have a perfectly good grasp of it, for the most part. Yet another is that as a species they enjoy destroying things (tying into their lack of the notion of property) and cite the fact that a group of them derailed a train, supposedly simply for fun, as evidence. The alien "Christopher" comments on his blog that in reality the group of aliens were an organized resistance group who derailed the train as an act of sabotage directed against the South African government, which had hired MNU to administer D9, in retaliation for repeated abuse by MNU. Although they started to enjoy it, what with the whole "not telling people why they did this, so people just think they did it for lulz".
    • Gangs from Nigeria move into D9 to get the alien weapons, for which they trade food to the starving aliens at exorbitant prices, unless they decide to simply take the tech, kill the alien, and then sell the alien's organs as a sort of "herbal remedy" that they claim cures all illnesses. The leader of the human gangs seems to believe that eating the aliens will one day allow him to use their technology, though he also seems to just plain enjoy it too.
    • When the human main character starts turning into an alien after a concentrated dose of Applied Phlebotinum, his fellow humans plan to dissect him while alive and conscious in order to learn how to give all humans the ability to use the alien tech (which only activates for the alien's biology, including the main character's hybrid form).
  • In the French-Canadian cult TV show Dans une galaxie près de chez vous (In a Galaxy near you), it was already established that earthlings (read: Humans) were Jerkass morons who wrecked their own planet. In the two movies, we see: Plot Device anglophones coming from nowhere threatening to exterminate a tiny civilization of cave-dwellers already terrorized because of the sounds of an underground waterfall, Aliens vomiting at the simple mention of the word "earthling" and a failed Write Back to the Future attempt because of ridicule in the internet. To be fair, the only ones in the crew who never have a Jerkass moment is the dumb-as-rocks pilot and (outside of the reveal episode) the half-alien radar operator (who is played by one of the head writers, and, in later seasons, is dangerously entering in Mary Sue territory) and both like to use the Constantly Backstabbing scientist as a punching bag (like everyone else for that matter).
  • This is a major aspect of the film Godzilla. Let's see here, humans made the atomic bomb. Humans used the atomic bomb for purposes of war. Humans test more powerful versions of the bomb. Guess who ends up mutating and waking up a VERY pissed-off radioactive dinosaur?
  • The major theme of the movie King Kong is that man is the monster.
  • In the original version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, an alien shows up and tries to give humanity a machine that would allow for interstellar communication. And how do the humans respond? By shooting him. After he recovers he spends some time observing humanity and eventually decides to show he means business by disabling all human technology on the planet (with a few exceptions, he left alone planes in flight, hospitals, and the like) for a short period of time. Then the humans shoot him again, this time killing him. He gets better, scolds them for being so violent, and essentially says that if humanity keeps this up the interstellar community will have no choice to put them down in order to prevent humanity from carrying its warlike ways out into space.
    • To be fair, it's mostly because the humans are afraid and paranoid (doesn't help that a yellow radio is adding fuel to that fire), and most are good people who just let that fear control them. This is about the Cold War after all.
    • Both the original and the remake try to paint human actions as irresponsible, rather than outright evil. See also: Humans Are Morons.
  • The aliens in It Came from Outer Space (1953) believe humanity's xenophobic response to their hideous form will inevitably lead to conflict, so they attempt to repair their spaceship secretly. Unfortunately their covert actions only increase the belief among the protagonists that the aliens are up to no good. Ironically while both aliens and humans are seen acting out of fear and suspicion, neither side is portrayed as particularly unreasonable or malevolent under the circumstances.
  • Planet of the Apes: Beware the beast Man, for he is the devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport, or lust, or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him. Drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death.
    • Luckily the later movies even this out, the apes are using Ape Shall Never Kill Ape as an excuse to do as bad to humans (if not worse than) what the humans did to them, and later prove they're just as bad as the humans.
      • Lampshaded when one ape crosses the Moral Event Horizon, and others find out about it. A human observes that they "just joined the human race."
  • Ed Wood naturally overdid it in Plan 9 from Outer Space, with an alien screaming, "All you of Earth are idiots! You see? Your stupid minds, stupid, stupid!"
    • That would be Humans Are Morons. The Humans Are the Real Monsters, too, but that's because they opt to fight and kill the aliens who are only trying to warn them about the dangers of creating the "solarbonite bomb."
  • This is the basic premise of the movie Deadgirl. Human behavior is far more depraved and horrifying than any scary monster the imagination can conceive, and the victim in the movie is said movie monster: a zombie.
  • Return of the Living Dead 3 has the humans torturing the zombies so cruelly that it almost has the viewer rooting for the zombies.
  • The Happening, aside from the whole "plants are pissed at us" thing, has a very subtle passing reference to the trope. Right after the unfortunate scene with the lawnmover, the protagonists run past a billboard advertising homes. Set on top of the billboard is a smaller line: "You deserve this!"
  • Agent Smith in The Matrix gives a Hannibal Lecture to Morpheus in which he claims that humans are more similar to viruses than mammals, because they exploit the world and drain it of all possible resources rather than instinctively seek out a natural equilibrium with their environment.
    • All of which is just a biological cartoon. All mammals act the same way until forced into equilibrium (by predation, starvation, disease, or all of the above).
    • Later, ironically enough, Agent Smith becomes a computer virus in all but name.
  • This trope is the ultimate nature of George Romero's Living Dead series. The Zombie Apocalypse is, more than anything, a way to provide pressure on the humans, who ultimately turn on each other.
    • Night of the Living Dead: Faced with walking, flesh-eating, corpses outside, the humans inside are too busy bickering and quarrelling with each other to mount any credible defense. The sole survivor, who makes it through the night only by luck, is promptly shot and nonchalantly dumped on a fire as yet-another zombie by people who can't be bothered to check he's still alive.
    • Dawn of the Dead: Humans are so quarrelsome and irresponsible that they cannot mount any coordinated offensive against the living dead. The protagonists prefer to mindlessly hole up inside a mall and just let the world go to hell outside.
    • Day of the Dead: The last remnants of humanity are just animals trapped in a cage. The scientists and civilians just want to drown themselves in hedonism one last time, the military are depicted as psychotic maniacs, and the most sympathetic character is a zombie that has been given some semblance of human intelligence back.
    • Land of the Dead: Arguably the most Anvilicious of depictions, where one gets the sincere feeling that we're supposed to be rooting for and sympathesing with the zombies.
    • Diary of the Dead: Awkwardly shoehorns it in as the final comment from a surviving main character.
    • Survival of the Dead: The most subtle of them all, and could almost be argued as being free from it, except for the fact we once again see a cluster of survivors wiped out because they're too busy squabbling even in the face of a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • The humans in the film version of Starship Troopers are brainwashed fanatics living in a fascist dystopia moving out into the galaxy and slaughtering the Arachnids for territory to expand into. Then again, in this case the Bugs aren't any better.
  • In Battle for Terra, the first thing the humans do when they find Terra is start kidnapping Terrans, and later try to terraform the planet by replacing the air with oxygen, which would have almost definitely killed off every living thing on Terra eventually.
    • However most human don't really want to kill the Terrans unless they can't find anyother way but their ship is going to fail in a few months so the lead of the army does it anyway. They do however work things out with they the Terrans.
  • In The Return of Hanuman, most of the divine beings in Swarglok wouldn't dare to reincarnate to Earth because in the modern times Earth is dangerous, with dangerous humans. Despite of that, Hanuman still believes that there are nice people remaining on Earth.
  • Lampshaded by Kermit in The Muppet Musicians of Bremen after he intruduces the four protagonists, the titular animal musicians, and the antgonists, their abusive owners.

Kermit: (to the viewers) "You may have noticed that the heroes in our story are all animals, and the villains are all people. I hope none of you takes that personally."

  • In The Fifth Element Leeloo despairs when she learns about the human race's tendency to inflict horrible things onto themselves (specifically World War 2) to the point of her seeing no point in helping them escape destruction, but then decides otherwise when Corben professes his love for her.

Literature

  • According to L. Frank Baum’s… odd elaboration of the Santa Claus legend, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, this was drilled into young Claus’ head by his mentor, the Great Ak.
  • A lot of early American sci‐fi has this theme. Any number of Ray Bradbury stories qualify (including, of course, The Martian Chronicles).
  • Orson Scott Card’s Homecoming series is built on this trope: Humanity were such bastards that the Keeper of Earth more or less chased us off to the stars, and genetically altered the populations to receive signals from The Oversoul (super‐computers designed to steer mankind’s development away from weapons of mass destruction and other planet raping tech). Harmony’s Oversoul outright states that he meant to last for a millennia or so before preparing for a trip back to Earth. Humans had been on Harmony for around 50,000,000 years and were no better than when they first arrived.
    • Of course, this was only half of the Aesop. The full Aesop was “since humans can’t be any better by their own devices, they just have to trust in God.”
    • This theme also appears in his Ender novels. The moment humanity thinks an alien species might be a threat, the first instinct is to kill it. This was why Ender stopped all transmission from the Ansible on the Piggys’ home planet, when they discovered that the virus infecting them could wipe out whole ecosystems.
      • To be fair, humanity never initiates the bloodbath in either case. The buggers killed hundreds of thousands of people in an orbital bombardment and the piggies brutally murdered two of the humans that were assigned to interact with them, while their homeworld contains a virus capable of destroying planets with no known cure. We do, however, attempt to end each conflict via xenocide.
  • Mentioned in Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl books — The Fae blame having to move into underground cities on humans expanding, and constantly call humans “mud people”, which just happens to be a real‐life ethnic slur. Overall, the trope doesn’t really apply, although this case isn’t made explicitly — the human villains often don’t know who’s helping Fowl or are brainwashed, and more often than not, the actual villains are other fairies.
  • Bruce Coville’s My Teacher Is an Alien series as well as the Rod Albright series both use this trope: aliens are aware of Earth but refuse to interact with humans because they consider them to be barbarians. It is revealed that one of the aliens in the “My Teacher” series invented television to keep people stupid so they couldn’t advance technologically any more.
    • We’re so bad Bruce had to introduce the pain and minor brain damage implied in cut‐off telepathy to explain why we are as we are.
    • We’re also apparently the only species to do things like have homeless people, while most of the other aliens can’t even understand the concept. It basically stops just short of actually having the aliens scratching their heads at this whole “capitalism” thing.
  • In Roald Dahl’s The BFG, the title character tells human girl Sophie that humans are just as bad as giants because “humans are the only animals that kill their own kind” (which isn’t even close to being true, incidentally). This is part of a fairly long and Anvilicious conversation about how humans suck.
    • Much of Dahl’s work for both children and adults reveals a misanthropic streak. At the extreme, we find Fantastic Mr. Fox, which has a plot only inasmuch as it enables him to elaborate on the physical and mental grotesqueness of the three farmers and/or the noble brilliance of the fox they harass (since they’re clearly too greedy to grudge him a chicken or two).
  • In Philip Jose Farmer’s Venus on the Half‐Shell every alien race points out that humans smell awful. So humans create a huge industry of special deodorants. Wondering why humans smell so bad to other races, some of whom smell like a sewer, it is pointed out that human morals stink, so that makes our smell stink. Yes, it’s a strange book.
  • Inverted in the Bill Peet children’s book, The Wump World. If you read the part in the opener for this trope about mankind’s chance to be such bastards on other planets via interstellar travel, the blue‐skinned aliens in the book have us beat.
    • Then, again, Dr. Seuss described how Once‐ler’s factories messed things up in The Lorax.
  • David Gemmell makes this point at least once per novel. In Stormrider he has one character, explain that a human witch has the ability to cultivate and grow and spread the magic in the world, but that the sum total of her ENTIRE LIFETIME of work and toil can be consumed by a single day of war.
  • Robert A. Heinlein sometimes used this in his stories, although he tends to view it as a virtue:
    • Have Space Suit—Will Travel. The Three Galaxies federation puts Humanity on Trial for their lives. Humans are considered potentially dangerous because of their innate savagery and extremely high rate of evolution and scientific/technological development.
    • Starship Troopers: Human beings are described as highly aggressive and expansionistic, with a strong will to survive. Heinlein makes the case that this is moral behavior. Though he also states that humanity has to be taught morality.
    • His most popular hero Lazarus Long is described as a mild bastard. But one that should be respected and admired. Quite a bit of Moral Dissonance is seen when he commits crimes that we are told to admire him for, but Long would kill anyone else who did them.
  • In Stephen King’s The Cell one character described humans thusly “At the bottom, you see, we are not Homo sapiens at all. Our core is madness. The prime directive is murder. What Darwin was too polite to say, my friends, is that we came to rule the earth not because we were the smartest, or even the meanest, but because we have always been the craziest, most murderous motherfuckers in the jungle.”
  • Not really avoided in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book; but in the main Mowgli stories, it’s clear that the animals would rather just ignore humans. “The White Seal”, on the other hand, gets downright Anvilicious about it.
  • A recurring theme in the works of Stanislaw Lem.
  • CS LewisOut of the Silent Planet and the rest of the Cosmic Trilogy. The idea is that there are several inhabited planets in our solar system, but Earth is the only one where Original Sin took place. This caused our world to fall out of communication with the others — we are the titular Silent Planet.
    • Moderated somewhat by the fact that redemption happened too. Perelandra implies this had other effects as well.
    • Bonus feature: Both pro and con of this are extrapolated fairly strictly (i.e., Once More, With Aliens) from The Bible.
  • The Warchild Series by Karin Lowachee has this in droves. For a sampling: There are pirates who engage in human trafficking, a pirate captain who is probably a pedophile, a war between humans and aliens started because humans tried to take the aliens’ moon by force (and massacring a bunch of aliens in the process), a government more interested in bigotry and bureaucracy than peace, soldiers who willingly engage in torture, etc. Even the most sympathetic characters still end up slitting someone’s throat, rebelling from the central government, and executing suspected terrorists without a trial. Humans are bastards indeed.
  • Every single character in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, even the hero is a multiple murderer who later on carries a necklace of ears around his neck. The only possible exception is The Judge, as though he’s the worst of the bunch, there’s a suggestion he’s not human.
  • In Animal Farm, humans are portrayed as the corrupt nobles of Tsarist Russia, more or less. The pigs, who represent the leaders of the Communist revolution, eventually start emulating the humans as they become more and more corrupt. The Animated Adaptation made this even less subtle, ending the film with a Bolivian Army Ending.
  • Terry Pratchett plays with this in his Discworld novels. Sure, a lot of human characters are bastards, but instead of just leaving it at that, he often probes the question of why humans act that way, especially in his later, more philosophical books. Furthermore, there are more than a few non‐human characters who are just as much bastards as humans can be; in the novel Feet of Clay, Commander Vimes is quoted as saying “Just because someone’s a member of an ethnic minority doesn’t mean they’re not a nasty small‐minded little jerk.”
    • Collectively, humans in Discworld exhibit traits from the whole spectrum, being bastards included, and it seems that it’s all pertaining to a theme of Humans Are Special.
    • Played closest to straight in The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, especially when Keith pretends to feed the ratcatchers rat poison.

Ratcatcher: This is inhuman!
Keith: No, it’s very human. It’s extremely human. There isn’t a beast in the world who’d do it to another living thing, but your poisons do it every day.
Even here, rats are perplexed by the idea that you shouldn’t eat a dead rat. Well, except for the green wobbly bit; obviously you shouldn’t eat that.

  • In Good Omens, the demon Crowley contemplates telling his superiors that they might as well shut Hell down and move to Earth, since humans are far more creatively evil than demons could ever be. He then decides against it since they often turn around and be stunningly good in the next moment. Often with the same people involved. He fully admits that their behavior confuses him.
    • This is after he gets a call congratulating him on the Spanish Inquisition, which he had nothing to do with. After he realized humans cooked the whole thing up themselves he went out and got real drunk.
  • The Old Man's War series explores the concept. In The Ghost Brigades, a scientist who defected to an alien race angrily pronounces humans as arrogant, elitist bastards who are deliberately refusing to sign a universal peace accord for no reason but superiority issues. However, the end of the book makes it clear that the scientist was only giving half the issue — the aliens are asking for some truly jawdropping accommodations for their “peace”, and several other species are against it. The Lost Colony further reveals that the aliens behind the accords are real pricks, and that humanity (while pretty arrogant) isn’t all that bad in the end. The overall balance of the series shows humanity as flawed, but not monstrous.
  • In Gulliver's Travels, the final voyage has Gulliver land in a place where he encounters the Yahoos — mindless, crude beasts that are visually indistinguishable from humans. To the point that the “enlightened” (and horse‐like) Houyhnhnms eventually forbid him from staying because he’s too much like them. They try to use moral threat as a Freudian Excuse, but they’re obviously not really afraid of Gulliver’s baser moral tendencies. This moral contradiction makes the Houyhnhnms even bigger bastards than anybody, but Gulliver is so wrapped up in his newfound misanthropy that he doesn’t notice (or probably doesn’t want to).
  • Another fine candidate for the title of magnum opus of fictional Human Bastardry is an illustrated science fiction novel entitled Man After Man. Twenty Minutes Into the Future, the well‐to‐do people of the world set off to leave Earth and colonize other worlds. Before they do, they use genetic modification technology to physically alter the people who weren’t able to afford the trip, changing them to survive in different biomes. Time passes and we get to see how the mutated humans gradually evolve over the eons after being left to their own devices — and then, suddenly, a race of Planet Looters invades Earth, enslaves the mutants, and strips the planet of its resources. For their next trick, they wipe out all life more complicated than bacteria. Those invading “aliens” were actually the unrecognizable descendants of the humans who’d left Earth millions of years ago. Dude…
    • This is all the more jarring considering that the author, natural historian Dougal Dixon, never before addressed this issue so anviliciously. His previous illustrated novels mostly avoided it by taking place in alternate timelines where there were no humans at all (there are hints of Gaia's Vengeance as the setup for After Man—look at the title—but that’s as far as it goes).
    • Just to be clear, the genetic engineering wasn’t forced on those left behind, and it was actually done in a belated guilt‐trip attempt to replace the many, many species humans had already wiped out. And the ones who eliminated virtually all life at the end had long since forgotten their origins on Earth, let alone that they were distant relatives of the creatures they were destroying.
  • Mark Twain’s satirical essay The Lowest Animal takes the claim that humans are the “reasoning animal” and totally destroys it by showing mankind’s hatred towards each other and everything else.
    • Twain also argued for the (continued) genocide of the Native Americans, on the basis that the white man had lied and betrayed and screwed them so many times, and so thoroughly, that they would (justifiably) never trust whites again. Therefore, the only course of action left was to give up any remaining illusions of not being utter bastards, and finish what they’d started.
  • Often comes through in Tales of MU, which focuses on the lives of non‐human students at a university with Fantastic Racism. Not that the merfolk, ogres, (surface) elves, or kitsuyokai are any better.
  • Many of S.L. Viehl’s s‐f novels fall into this category. The vast majority of “Terrans” are rabid xenophobes: Extraterrestrial sentients are only allowed on Earth under very limited circumstances, certainly aren’t allowed to live there, and will generally find it an unpleasant place. And if you’re discovered to be a Half-Human Hybrid (or a clone)heaven help you.
    • They will also send a fleet to sterilize your world if they find out you’re harboring a human clone. Somehow, the humans seem even more monstrous than the Hskt‐skt.
  • A constant theme running throughout H. G. WellsThe Island of Doctor Moreau. Reaches an early peak with the ship’s crew that forces Prendick off the boat and leaves him to die in the middle of the ocean. Moreau’s creations of demihumans he and Montgomery dominate isn’t so sweet either.
  • Terry Goodkind has created a world in the Sword of Truth books in which every human is either an insane hyper‐fascist, an insane hyper‐communist, a doormat who is brought around to agree with the hyper‐fascists, or dead. And he wants readers to agree with said hyper‐fascists.
  • Author Tad Williams seems to be fond of this trope with the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series and the Shadowmarch series. Faerie races exist in both: in the former it is the Sithi (immortal elves), while in the latter it is the Qar. In both instances, humans attempted to carry out a campaign of genocide against the kingdom of Faerie for no other reason except they wanted the land or they thought the Faeries were evil. In the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, the Big Bad is a dead Sithi prince who gave his life defending his people against human invaders and now wants his revenge. Unfortunately, it seems he’s willing to destroy the world to do it, so even the remnants of his people rally to fight him. His final undoing? The one human who actually bothers to apologize.
  • Robert Zubrin’s The Holy Land. Earthlings and non‐Earthlings disagree on who are the ‘humans,’ but this trope applies to either and both of them regardless.
  • In Stationery Voyagers, the heroes are promised to be treated as diplomats should be. Except since the nations on Mantith have not had contact for centuries with the Stationery worlds, there are no embassies. So the nations’ leaders have no sense of obligation to regard Stato, Britophondus, and Verinthia as legitimate nations. The Voyagers are left to their own devices often to avoid being kidnapped, arrested, or outright murdered by politically‐polarized mobs.

Pextel: “We have a sacred mission here, and a profane force at work. We must not be distracted by our lousy hosts.”
Viola: “Yeah… well our hosts suck! And you can tell ’em I said so!”

  • In the David Weber authored Bolo books there is direct neural interfacing between Bolo commanders and the later model Bolos (Battleship size self‐aware tank). A Bolo has a warrior personality but nobody had realised how much the safeguards had inhibited its ferocity until they saw the first Bolo‐Human mental fusion go into battle. Humans have no inhibitory safeguards.
    • It’s worth expanding, the Bolos with the Human Mental fusion end up going on a generations long genocidal war against a larger alien empire. Thousands of worlds, Trillions of humans and aliens, and only a few million survive on a few very backward planets.
  • In The King of Beasts by Philip Jose Farmer, an alien scientist shows a visitor how he’s cloning several now‐extinct animals. At the end, he shows one he had to “get special permission to raise.” The visitor is shocked, and begins to ask—and is confirmed—that it’s a man. Then again, the scientist seems to pity the growing human, since it’ll be “all alone.”
  • In the Callahans Crosstime Saloon series, humans are bastards because of the Krundai. They are pacifistic carnivores, and hit upon the idea of breeding food that kills itself, so they shaped humanity into being the most savage, self‐destructive species they could.
  • In The Acts of Caine, humans are bastards. Well, to be exact, the metaphorical psychomorphic deity‐incarnation of humanity is a bastard. But the human hero who achieves its humiliating defeat is also a bastard, so in this series humanity doesn’t look good at the individual or species level.
  • Subverted Trope (the Qu), played straight (the Gravital) and everything in between in Nemo Ramjet’s All Tomorrows.
  • The Book of Lord Shang notes that “The guiding principles of the people are base, and they are not consistent in what they value.”
  • In The Killing Star, by Charles Pellegrino and George Zebrowski, an alien species annihilates humanity with relativistic kinetic weapons before we even encounter them. They had been observing humans, and had discovered that our technology was nearing the point where we could build relativistic kinetic weapons ourselves, so they wiped us out on the off chance that we might decide to wipe them out. Why does this story qualify under the Humans Are the Real Monsters trope? Because the authors made it quite clear that we would have done exactly the same thing to them if our roles had been reversed.
    • This does qualify the aliens as bastards, though (if we’re the same as them, they’re obviously the same as us).
  • In Run to the Stars, by Michael Scott Rohan, we get the following exchange, after Kirsty and Ryly discover that the world government has sent a missile to wipe out a just‐discovered alien species:

Kirsty: “There must be millions of inhabited worlds out there, whatever the experts spout. Some like us, some not. Sooner or later one of them’s bound to track back our communications overspill and find us. What then? Under the bed? If that missile hits the target, we’ll have tae hide. Shrink back into our own wee system, never make a noise, never stir outside it. What if any other race ever found out what we’d done? Then we’d never be safe. They’d never trust us. Not for an instant. There’s bound to be some of them who think like you, Ryly. We’d be giving them grand evidence, wouldn’t we? They’d wipe us out like plague germs and feel good about it!”
Ryly: “Unless… Unless we got them first. At once, on first contact. A pre‐emptive strike, before they could possibly have a chance to find out about us. Hellfire, isn’t that a glorious future history for us! A race of paranoid killers, skulking in our own backwater system when we might have had the stars! Clamping down on exploration, communications, anything that might lead someone else to us and make us stain our hands again with the same old crime… Carrying that weight down the generations. What would that make of us?”
Kirsty: “Predators. Carrion‐eaters — no, worse, ghouls, vampires, killing just tae carry on our own worthless shadow‐lives.”

  • Alan Dean Foster moderates this in his trilogy The Damned. Humans appeared in a world where all life would be impossible by the standards of most aliens, and we went through some unpleasant evolutionary contortions to survive, but if we last much longer without outside interference, we’ll achieve peace. Unfortunately, outside interference is coming — and by book 3, after a thousand years as Cannon Fodder in an interstellar war, the humans are less “human” psychologically than the aliens are.
  • In Stross’s Saturn’s Children, the humans can’t create artificial intelligence on their own, so they build machine analogues to human brains, then raise them as children and teach them what they need to know to fulfill their eventual robotic function, then record and duplicate a snapshot once they’ve learned enough. But wait! That produces people, who might resent slavery, so on top of that they hardwire a version of Asimov’s Laws, to make them good little obedient slaves. But wait! That still leaves the inner person able to figure out loopholes, and isn’t nearly bastardly enough, so to ensure that they cringe away from any thoughts of rebelling, they resurrect good old‐fashioned slave‐breaking techniques, and make rape and abuse of the adolescent robots the next level of conditioning.
  • Done in a harshly Anvilicious fashion in a Neil Gaiman short story where humanity suddenly realizes that it has made most of the various animal species extinct, and bemoans the fact that now we have nothing to perform medical tests on, no meat to eat, no source for products like leather and such. But, the text says, humanity is clever, and we figured a way out of that, by using the least productive members of society to replace all that: babies. The end of the story notes that now the babies seem to be gone, but humanity is clever. We’ll figure a way out of this…
  • One of the themes in Stephenie Meyer’s Science Fiction novel The Host, where the invading aliens are kind, pure creatures who regard humans as animalistic and vicious. Kind of ironic, since the aliens are imprisoning the humans in their own bodies forever
  • The Dark Ones in Night Watch take this as a basic tenet, though the Light Ones disagree. Case in point: the Light created Communism to try and improve humanity. They claim it was subverted by the Dark, but the Dark maintains they didn’t do anything, and humans simply went on a destructive path as a result of their own natures.
    • Update: the experiment with Communism was indeed sabotaged, by none other than Gessar the Brightest, head of the Moscow Night Watch. He revealed later that he had foreseen that the experiment would’ve been successful and indeed propelled the technological level of humanity but eventually would’ve lead to a 1984-esque world division into three constantly warring blocks and, most importantly, exposure of the Others and their subsequent extermination. So yes, basically it’s implied that even given a perfect world, we’d screw it up.
  • This is pretty much the entire point of Notes From Underground where the main character in particular embodies this, but with the sole exception of the Hooker with a Heart of Gold most of the characters fall into this.
  • Subverted in the Hitch Hikers Guide to The Galaxy series: Despite managing to turn the most horrific war in galactic history into the boring and hard‐to‐understand game of Cricket, using the incredibly profane word “Belgium” as the name of a country, and housing the worst poet in the galaxy, humanity is just implied to be primitive, although the rest of the Galaxy has shunned Earth for Cricket.
  • In Sergey Volnov’s Army Of The Sun, humanity has conquered and enslaved any alien race they happened to come by, imposing their culture and customs on them (apparently, some aliens didn’t look too kindly on the introduction on the concept of love to their emotionless mating practices). The novels describe the galaxy after the empire‐wide rebellion, which resulted in an alien‐dominated galaxy, where humans are treated as second‐class citizens. Interestingly, the novels make the reader feel more for the humans, even though it is clearly stated that humans were anything but kind to their alien slaves. In fact, the only races that they treated more or less fairly were Human Aliens, as they happened to look almost exactly like blacks, whites, and Asians. Then again, the aliens don’t exactly treat humans kindly either, still remembering the days of The Empire. On the other hand, hardly anyone ever mentions the positive aspects of the Earthstella Empire, such as technological uplifting, introduction of FTL travel (only one other race managed to develop it on their own), unified language, interstellar economy, and turning a bunch of isolated species into a galactic community.
    • Only one alien dockworker nostalgically remembers the days of The Empire, when the spacedock was bustling with ships and work was always available.
  • A rather nasty science fiction novel by Charles Pellegrino, Flying to Valhalla is built around the theory that a species looks out for itself only, destroying all competitors. This includes humans, which they go on to prove, whether they want to or not.
  • Lampshaded in S.M. Stirling’s Draka series. The Draka admit that they’re bastards, and frequently upbraid the Alliance for its hypocrisy in not owning up to the bastard deeds of their own history: “We couldn’t exterminate our aborigines, the way the Yankees did.”
  • Ursula K. Le Guin’s novella The Word for World is Forest features humans descending upon the forested planet of Athshe, harvesting the valuable lumber and terrorizing and enslaving the native inhabitants.
  • Tarrou, of The Plague, holds the worldview that evil is inherent and natural in humans:

I know positively—yes, Rieux, I can say I know the world inside out, as you may see—that each of us has the plague within him; no one, no one on earth is free from it. And I know, too, that we must keep endless watch on ourselves lest in a careless moment we breathe in somebody’s face and fasten the infection on him. What’s natural is the microbe. All the rest—health, integrity, purity (if you like)—is a product of the human will, of a vigilance that must never falter. The good man, the man who infects hardly anyone, is the man who has the fewest lapses of attention.

  • In Honor Harrington the Planet of Sphinx is a subversion where humans come to a planet inhabited by Noble Savage creatures called treecats and instead of tearing the planet up, they go to lengths to keep it clear of development, and form friendships with them. One of them bonds with the title character who of course is an exponent of another trope about humans.
  • A rare occasion when this trope is played in positive (kind of) light occurs in a short sci‐fi story “Cage” by B. Chandler. A group of astronauts are marooned on a distant planet and then captured by aliens. Humans are treated well but are not recognised as sentient beings. The obvious solutions, like making right triangles out of twigs, fail to impress the aliens. However, later humans discover some small vermin scurrying around their cage and decide to capture it and keep it as a pet. The succeed, and right afterwards the aliens let them go with apologies. What can better serve as an evidence of intelligence than an ability and readiness to put other beings in cages?
  • The galactic empire of Bill the Galactic Hero has a war‐based economy that has to be sustained by seeking out new alien races with which to do battle. The aliens are treated well at first until the humans trump up some faux pas for the ambassadors to make which is made into an excuse for all‐out interplanetary war.
  • H.P. Lovecraft played with this a bit. While not directly adressing the trope, he noted that among his gods there is one who is the most human of them all — Nyarlathotep. You know, the most malicious, manipulative and outright sadistic one.
  • Invoked several times in Animorphs, especially when Ax learns about things like the Holocaust — though very few of the aliens consider humans complete bastards, and most alien species are acknowledged to have a bit of bastard in them too (the Pemalites and the Hork‐Bajir are the only races that are truly morally superior, and that’s because they were genetically engineered to be kind and peaceful and to be stupid and docile, respectively). The Yeerks do have an attitude of “it’s not like humans are so perfect anyway”, along with the “you’re our meat” thing, though.
    • In the Andalite Chronicles Elfangor is surprised to learn that humans fight wars with one another. However the Andalites are not much better given that they attempt to wipe out the human race in order to get the Yeerks twice.
  • AM, Big Bad and sadistic AI of the short story I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream definitely believes this. The story’s protagonist ends up proving him wrong by murdering all of his companions. It’s better than it sounds — they were Mercy Kills.

Live Action TV

  • As a whole, Star Trek - especially the Next Generation - posits a world in which humans were bastards, and rarely loses the opportunity to lecture their 20th-century viewers on how far we still have to go. Good news, though; we get better. In fact, we're even sorta charming, especially to advanced races who gauge others for 'potential'.
    • Even so, in one episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Quark the Ferengi lectures Commander Sisko about how his species never practiced slavery or genocide (particularly Anvilicious as it's already established that Ferengi not only did keep slaves but still do (sort of) - anyone who goes into debt they can't repay is legally enslaved to their debtor. This also ignores the extreme sexism his race continues to practice). He also tells Nog in "The Siege of AR-558":

"Let me tell you something about Humans, nephew. They're a wonderful, friendly people - as long as their bellies are full and their holosuites are working. But take away their creature comforts... deprive them of food, sleep, sonic showers... put their lives in jeopardy over an extended period of time... and those same friendly, intelligent, wonderful people will become as nasty and violent as the most bloodthirsty Klingon. You don't believe me? Look at those faces, look at their eyes..."

    • The Vulcans are a more extreme example of former bastards. They often act condescending to other species, but the subtext is often that they realize that since they were bastards, other species can benefit from logic as well, and often get shirty when they don't. A young Tuvok from Voyager was once shown complaining about humanity always expecting other species to be like them, apparently not recognizing a classic Vulcan move when he sees one.
    • The jabs at humans that Spock and other Vulcans like to make via examples from human history, however, go uncalled-out, even though all indications are that Vulcans were just as bad in their own early history. Spock himself admitted that Vulcan, like Earth, had its warring colonizing period that was considered brutal even by our standards, and that some Vulcans (you might know them as Romulans) still hold to their warlike roots.
  • Given the kind of person Jim Henson was, he usually had a more thoughtful take on this issue. To wit:
    • Fraggle Rock stands dedicatedly on the "humans are misguided" side. Uncle Traveling Matt quickly dubs us "the Silly Creatures", which really says it all. On the few occasions Doc threatened the Five Races, he did so without realizing it (shutting down the pipes in his house shuts down the water supply for the Fraggles, Doozers, and Gorgs). When he finally meets Gobo face-to-face, he's careful to take this sort of thing into consideration.
      • Most behaviors that Traveling Matt observed in humans weren't silly at all—not even, in many cases, the way he misinterpreted them. For example, he thought paperboys fed hungry houses. The main exception is that when humans noticed him, they apparently mistook him for one of them.
  • Not really avoided in The Muppet Show or its movie spin-offs. As far as the biggest bastard Kermit ever met is concerned, Roger Ebert said it best: "As soon as Kermit gains legs, he meets a human with an unsavory use for them."
    • The famous anti-hunting rendition of "For What It's Worth" featured little woodland animals singing about "a man with a gun over there", and periodically ducking under cover as trigger-happy human hunters blundered through the scene, firing at everything that moved.
    • And then promptly subverted at the end when the hunters reveal they were trying to bag construction equipment.
  • Doctor Who, particularly the revival series, sways between Humans Are the Real Monsters, Humans Are Idiots, Humans Are Misguided But Well-Meaning, and even on occasion Humans Are Absolutely Frickin' Awesome, sometimes within the same episode. Which is probably as close to reality as you can get really, since humans generally show capacity for all of these things, depending on all kinds of factors.

The Doctor: Humans have got such limited little minds. I don't know why I like you so much.

Sarah Jane Smith: Because you have such good taste.

The Doctor: That's true. That's very true.

    • Played painfully straight in the new series episode "Midnight". The Doctor, usually quite a talkative guy, couldn't even say anything about it. It was really that bad for him.
      • It was less that the humans involved behaved like bastards of the first order (he's pretty familiar with humans doing terrible things), and more than he got mindraped by some malevolent alien entity.
    • Remember the Ood from The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit? We get treated to this trope in a later episode Planet of the Ood. The humans who found them isolated the Ood Brain (the core of their hive mind) and after an indefinite amount of time started to hack off the Oods' hind-mind (the external chunk of brain sticking out of their face that govern personality) and replace them with translator orbs. Of course, not all humans are bastards: there are still people protesting against the slavery.
    • In The Christmas Invasion, after Harriet Jones has the retreating Sycorax ship blasted into smithereens, the Doctor is so angry that he briefly seems to lose all respect for humans in general: "I should have told them to run, as fast as they can, run and hide, because the monsters are coming: the human race!"
    • In "The Doctor's Daughter", humans are far FAR more violent than the Hath.
    • In "The Beast Below", it's revealed that the engine for Starship UK is actually a Star Whale, the last of its kind. In order to keep the ship afloat, the whale is regularly tortured. The Queen chooses to forget this every 10 years, as she believes the alternative is to doom the entire population by releasing the whale from captivity.
      • Worse, each year every citizen would go into a room and find out the awful truth. They would then get a vote: Forget or Dissent. The first button caused the last few minutes to be erased from their memories, allowing them to live in blissful ignorance. The second button dropped them into the basement to be fed to the Star Whale. Children who fail in class are also treated to the latter, although the Star Whale doesn't want to eat them.
      • Amy overcomes this trait after first succumbing to it. Despite the seemingly impossible situation, she realizes the Star Whale's fondness of children is what led it to Earth in the first place, and if she frees it from prison, it will stay for the children's sake.
    • Doctor Who And The Silurians is practically made of this trope. Despite all the Doctor's best efforts the humans' greed, stubbornness and fear sends the situation spiralling out of control, culminating in the Brigadier murdering an entire race of hibernating people. While the Silurians wanted to destroy the humans at least as much, they do show nobler tendencies, as the Old Silurian is the only morally respectable character aside from the Doctor and Liz and even the young Silurian's choice to sacrifice himself for the good of his people contrasts with the petty, selfish and emotional reactions of the human characters.
      • In fact, pretty much every appearance by the Silurians throughout the series will at least invoke this trope once or twice.
  • Battlestar Galactica: While the Cylons definitely hold that view towards humanity, at least in the first couple of seasons, Cylons are pretty much better than humanity at everything. Including self-righteous hypocrisy (given they make statements like "humans don't respect life like we do" after exterminating most of humanity in a nuclear holocaust and about to gun someone down).
  • Supernatural: While Sam and Dean usually fight supernatural monsters, the first season episode "The Benders" involves humans who hunt down other humans for fun, the second season episode "Houses of the Holy" involves a man with dead bodies in his basement, an email-using pedophile, and an attempted rapist, all of whom deserved their instant death, and the third season episode "Sin City" features a demon talking to Dean about how much humans suck. The fourth season episode "Family Remains" involves a man who raped his daughter and then shut the resulting twins away under the house, where they became animalistic scavengers. "The Benders" and "Family Remains" are notable for being the only episodes so far that don't actually involve anything supernatural, just urban legend-like events of a mundane sort. Dean: "Demons I get, people are crazy."
    • Of course, when it comes to supernatural, it's more a case of EVERYTHING is a Bastard, even the angels.
    • To be fair not all the angels are bastards. Castiel and Joshua are pretty decent. Anna too up until you know.... And Gabriel in the end, a possibly a little bit in the beginning.
    • Interestingly, Lucifer believed that Humans Are the Real Monsters and was furious that God showed more attention to those "murderous hairless apes" than to someone who was perfect and wonderful, like him.
    • And now it looks like Castiel has caught the crazy everybody else had.
  • Lost seems to be going this route with the overriding conflict between Jacob and the Man in Black/Smoke Monster:

MIB: They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt. It always ends the same.
Jacob: It only ends once. Everything that happens before that...is just progress.

  • Subverted in an episode of the 80's Twilight Zone revival, when aliens arrive on Earth and announce that they seeded the planet with humans ages ago, but now they are destroying us because they were attempting to breed warriors, and we aren't big enough bastards.
    • The original Twilight Zone is rife with this trope. In The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street as well as in The Shelter a suburban town tears itself apart after a perceived invasion/attack. The Eye Of The Beholder and Number 12 Looks Just Like You highlight our superficial views on aesthetics (True Beauty Is on the Inside). Third From The Sun shows our repetitive barbarous irresponsibility (with a hint of Nuclear Weapons Taboo). I Shot An Arrow In The Air shows our hatred and evil tendencies in the face of death. The Rip Van Winkle Caper shows how greedy we can be even with our "friends". The Little People shows Drunk with Power, and perhaps the best example of this trope; People Are Alike All Over where alien benefactors who shower gifts upon an earthling reveal their demeanor as a ruse when they abduct him for exhibition in a martian zoo (Face Heel Turn)
      • Rod Serling's other series Night Gallery had an episode where a professor is teaching the students to hurt one another. The class are robots. There was a global war and the world needs to be repopulated. The robots aren't being taught to be assholes, they were being taught to be human.
  • Shown a couple times in Farscape, especially in the episode "A Human Reaction" where John returns to Earth and the government immediately imprisons and kills both D'argo and Rygel to study alien anatomy. The entire episode paints a particularly bleak picture of the human race. Possibly subverted in that it is actually all an engineered environment made by aliens that are using John's memories and knowledge of the human race to judge how humans will react to aliens. Apparently John doesn't have too much faith in humanity.
    • Somewhat justified in the season 4 episodes dealing with several of the humans' reactions and the crew's interactions when they actually do reach Earth.
    • Subverted/inverts another trope at the same time. Sebacians aren't Scary Dogmatic Aliens. They're genetically engineered humans.
  • In an episode of Smallville, Brainiac claims that humans are worthless and trying to save them is a waste of time. To prove it, he causes a blackout (one that affected airplanes in flight), and everyone except for the main characters goes completely nuts: rioting, looting, sending a car through a building. Clark Kent exhausts himself running around the city trying to keep the peace, until his friend Chloe tells him to just find Brainiac and defeat him.
    • Clark starts thinking this when Davis Bloom proves that he is pure evil after he had been cured of his Hulk-like transformations into Doomsday.
  • Byron from season 5 of Babylon 5 is convinced Mundanes Are Bastards, that when telepaths engage in actions such as murder and Mind Rape, it's only because mundanes have pushed them to it. However, this is obviously not the case, as he and his people end up doing plenty of horrible things out of a sense of entitlement, and Byron's statements probably made things worse with ideas of "we deserve this" and "it's their fault, not mine".
    • When humans dig up a Shadow Battle Crab on Mars, they look at its horrible blackness that induces internal screaming, and immediately think "Hmm...how can we make this work for us?"
    • To be fair, Shadows are even more misguided then humans, but are not inherently evil (though they may look it). Humans on the other hand just have an affinity for power, even if it wasn't earned.
  • On Angel Angel goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, determined to take down the evil law firm Wolfram & Hart once and for all. He finds an elevator he thinks will take him to W&H's "Home Office" and their senior partners. On the way down seemingly to Hell, the ghost of W&H lawyer Holland Manners appears telling him his fight against them and evil itself is pointless. The elevator doors open to reveal they are still on Earth and that Earth is the home office. It is because evil lives in the heart of every human being. This revelation completely demoralizes Angel.
  • In Sir Arthur Conan Doyles the Lost World, the Affably Evil humanoid lizard Tribune keeps humans as slaves and occasionally eats them. Yet, he claims, "To kill is in our nature. To pull the wings off a fly... that's a human thing."
  • Semi-subversion in Mongrels, the animal characters are as bad if not worse than the humans, with the possible exception of Nelson.
    • In episode 5 Kali decides that the human race needs to be wiped out after her date is shot in a pigeon culling. Her plan involves breeding a master race of "pigeox" and when it turns out to be a normal pigeon with red feathers she tells Vince to eat it.
  • In Andromeda, the character Seamus Harper is a human who grew up on Earth. Earth in this 'verse has been invaded by both the Horde of Alien Locusts Magog and the genetically-engineered Nietzscheans. As Harper tells his alien shipmate Trance Gemini in one episode, the Nietzscheans were worse because they were human. Granted, not that they just were capable of even more oppressive, creative cruelty than the brutal monstrosity of the Magog, but that the fact that, despite their superior attitude and holding themselves apart like a different race entirely, they are not another species and that makes it worse.
    • In another episode, Harper wonders aloud if Castalians (a genetically-engineered human variant that breathe water) eat fish or if it would be like humans eating monkeys, and Captain Dylan Hunt points out that humans have eaten monkeys, and other humans.
  • HG Wells in Warehouse 13 comes to this conclusion after her 8 year old daughter was murdered.

HG Open your eyes Myka have you seen the world in which you live? The divide between rich and poor! Hunger and famine! War and violence and hatred all flourishing beyond control! Indeed, men have found new ways to kill each other that were inconceivable in my day, even by fiction writers!


Music

  • The music video for Do the Evolution showcases humanity's evil actions throughout history, though it also implies that life on Earth in general has always been naturally savage and brutal.
  • Parodied in Robots by Flight of the Conchords. Robots have annihilated all humans for this trope, but one of the lieutenants notes that they did the same thing as them by killing them.

Captain, do you not see the irony, by destroying the humans because of their destructive capabilities, we have become like... do you see... see what we've done?
Yes.
...So?
SILENCE! DESTROY HIM!

We gave them feelings, what did they sense?
Shout at the world in their defense.
We gave them science what did they do?
They built a bomb and they used it too!
We gave them wisdom, what did they learn?
Wore out the planet and made it burn!
We gave them armor, what did they make?
Nuclear weapons for their own sake!
We gave them insight, what did they see?
Vanquish the noble, enslave the free!
We gave them wisdom, what did they seek?
Destroying all that's within their reach!
We gave them language, what did they say?
They put the planet in disarray!
We gave them dreams!
And what did they dream?!

  • Devo, Beautiful World. Especially the video. Actually, most of the band's work tends to involve this trope in one form or another.
  • Crime of The Century (The song, and maybe the album) is likely this, or some group jumping the Moral Event Horizon.
  • Although it's not directly stated, and not that the media cared, but Sympathy for the Devil strongly suggests that the Devil in question is humanity itself.
  • The Ego Likeness song "Song for Samael" certainly seems to imply this:

And man is just a child
Defective and diseased
And I grow so fearful for their kin
As I watch the sickness breed
Some will find them worthy of salvation
But to what end?
I've seen a man rape his only child
And murdered one who he called a friend


Samael
Meet me at the Red Sea
Samael
Meet me at the Red Sea
There are too many thieves in the kingdom
I will give you the key
Will you take care of this for me?

  • Arch Enemy's "Beast Of Man" uses the page quote in its lyrics.
  • Pick a Heavy Metal song, any of them, and chances are it's about this.


Mythology


Newspaper Comics

Thorax: When you say you're going to rethink your creation of humanity, in what respect are you going to do so?

Monty: Only in the respects that command their waking thoughts and actions. Their covetousness and lust; their intolerance, cowardice, hatred and cruelty; their sanctimony, mendacity and thievery; and their intense, feckless voyeuristic love of mediocrity.... At least for starters.

Thorax: That may be an extreme way to portray them.-->Monty: It's the only way they portray themselves. Read a newspaper.

(A little later)

Thorax: So... Are you pretty much resolved to efface humankind from the face of the planet?

Monty: Only to the extent that they are resolved to do it to each other.

Thorax: Perhaps, on the whole, you should adopt a different standard for Armageddon.

Monty: Good point. It's difficult to live up to (humanity's) level of ferocity.

    • This storyline could also be interpreted as God Is Evil, especially since Monty plans his first human-to-cockroach transformation with the unborn baby of the nicest characters who also happens to be an ex-nun and whose baby-daddy is an ex-priest. It's made especially creepy by the fact that Monty is discussing wiping out/mutating humanity with the calm demeanor you'd use to pick groceries. Monty is later called out by a bunch of the characters for both his plan and the fact that he can't use H/his powers to find some missing clothes (Thorax: "Monty, you and I are quits.") Monty eventually reveals to the mom-to-be that he wasn't really going to do it, and the whole thing probably a Secret Test of Character for the other, um, characters.
  • Pogo: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."
  • An alien on Prickly City has decided to call off his invasion because he doesn't want to catch whatever we have.
  • Calvin and Hobbes played this up quite often, with the sentiment usually voiced by Hobbes. Sometimes, however, Calvin himself would experience the Cultural Cringe. One strip which showed him becoming disgusted at the garbage that other humans had thoughtlessly discarded in the woods, ends with him stripping off all his clothes and walking naked through the forest with Hobbes, proclaiming "I'm with you." In its own absurd way, it was a Crowning Moment of Awesome.


Religion

  • Christianity states this is the whole reason for the Incarnation and Sacrifice of Jesus. Paul even yells at other Christians for having sex with their stepmothers (1 Corinthians 5)
  • The Bible delves into this territory at times, especially in the Old Testament. The Lord is great and righteous. Humanity, not so much.
    • Seriously, the Bible (at least for those whose religions follow it) does answer the question of why bad things happen to good people: namely, that bad things don't happen to good people because there's no such thing as good people.
  • New agers often believe that there are many alien races out there watching over humanity, but are withholding assistance because we're too violent and nasty to each other and aren't Perfect Pacifist People like they are.


Tabletop RPG

  • In almost any other setting, The Imperium of Man of Warhammer 40000 fame would certainly go straight into Complete Monster territory, being a xenocidal, fanatical, corrupt, racist, mass-murdering apparatus. However, in the context of the setting, it's justified and thus avoid the complete monster label because pretty much every other species is just as bad, if not worse, and without the Imperium's harsh rule mankind would be doomed to slavery, extinction, or Fates Worse Than Death.
    • The fandom's preferred "good guys" are the idealistic Tau (collectivist imperialist aliens often accused of brainwashing by fans and Imperial humans alike) and the arrogant Eldar (who will gladly kill a million Humans today to save one Eldar a century from now). All the other races are much, much worse: the daemonic legions of Chaos are largely psychotic, the Tyranids want to eat the galaxy, the soulless Necrons want to end the existence of souls, the battle-loving Orks go on jihads for fun, and Dark Eldar literally get off on inflicting and receiving pain. Essentially, no matter how insanely vicious the Imperium gets, you'd still cheer them on. These are people who use other people for machinery, commit genocide and human sacrifice, and just generally run a totalitarian police state in which you can be killed for thought crimes. They have a branch of the government AND whole sections of planets devoted entirely to torture (church worlds-dungeon section). It is best not to read this series if you get easily depressed.
      • According to the Horus Heresy series, the Emperor was tolerant over anything that could be considered Human, BUT he did intend to conduct a cleansing of the galaxy of all aliens and was a supporter of atheism, wanting to build a Human Empire of thought and reason (and destroy ALL religion (probably turning on his throne watching the Church of the Humanity)).
      • That's not entirely true either. The Emperor wanted to eliminate alien races that posed a threat to humanity. (which in fairness, is just about all of them) IIRC, Fulgrim tried to get the Laer to become a protectorate of the Imperium. Too bad the Laer worshipped Slaanesh...
    • Psykers have always been a grey area, however. No matter how much they may be detested daemon magnets, the fact remains that the Imperium simply could not function - even with the Emperor at full strength - without them, as they're utterly vital for both communication and navigation. Same goes for the three-eyed Navigator corps. Not to mention that the Emperor is himself a psyker, the most powerful to have ever lived.
  • The Other Warhammer Fantasy Battle has Humans as one of the nicest races, not like that's really hard. Even the Chaos humans are rather noble compared to other Chaos forces (Beastmen, Daemons and Dwarfs). Plus no one can out-evil the Skaven.
  • The World of Darkness series seems to hold to a viewpoint best described as follows: "Humans are Bastards, but frankly, compared to the rest of reality, they're small-timers." Both Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Werewolf: The Forsaken come close to playing it straight, while Promethean: The Created comes close to subverting it (Prometheans admit humans have their flaws, but desperately want to be them because they know Prometheans are far worse), while Changeling: The Lost subverts it outright (Dancers In Dusk states few things rekindle a changeling's much-needed faith in other people then visiting a stranger's dreams for the first time).
  • In the expanded Dungeons and Dragons core setting based on Greyhawk, Humanity's creator deity is Zarus who claims to be the first human, a Lawful Evil Deity of bigotry and human supremacy. This in a world where every other core race's primary deity is good aligned. Worse yet, he's a greater deity, meaning he has a flipping ton of worshipers, all of them human.

Theatre

No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity, but I know none, therefore am no beast.

  • A classic example from the Threepenny Opera: "What keeps mankind alive? The fact that millions are daily tortured, stifled, punished, silenced and oppressed. Mankind can keep alive thanks to its brilliance, in keeping its humanity repressed. And for once you must try not to shriek the facts: mankind is kept alive by bestial acts."

Video Games

  • 2027: Titan will reference this if you initate the Vladmir ending.
  • In Strange Journey, most of the humans and demons are mostly cool with each other. Humans from your investigation team tend to go somewhere between Lawful Neutral and True Neutral, and the demons swing in a true diverse fashion, with virtually all alignments represented. Then again, demons like Mitra appear. Turns out, Captain Jack and his all-too human pals are way, way, way, too on par with Mitra for comfort, butchering demons (and by their willingness to torture and kill Jimenez, humans too) to create their own demon army. Especially when it turns out Jack and co. are Only in It For the Money.
    • ALL of the demons (or near all of them) are very quick to point out that while the Schwartzwelt is essentially a hell on earth, all of it is modeled on humanity's being a race of bastards with the innate instinct and talent for killing (Especially killing other humans). The more wild/bloodthirsty demons clearly state how awed they are by that aspect of humanity with a grudging respect/obvious distaste.
    • After a while, having every single demon you try to negotiate with asking "Why do humans suck so much?" gets tiresome... (Though they also like to ask, "Nice suit! Where'd you get it?", so...)
  • Persona games gave us the Anthropomorphic Personification of this trope in Nyarlathotep - an entity literally created as the dark, destructive side of the collective unconscious, a monstrous entity born of Humanity's hatred, fear and despair. He will exist as long as Humanity does. He has been known to indulge in omnicidal plans... and he has been known to win.
    • Of course, He of the Thousand Masks takes his name from a Lovecraftian Eldritch Abomination who just likes to mess with sapient life.
    • Though there is also Philemon, The Crawling Chaos' rival who believes humanity can become enlightened.
      • Although Philemon himself may embody this trope even better than Nyarlathotep, in his own way—you kinda expect the personified essence of humanity's evil to be a total asshole, but you don't quite expect his opposite to be the dick Philemon acts like.
    • The third and fourth games, however, focus on subverting this - the protagonists associate with those around them, discover the core of strength that lies at the heart of humanity, and use it to smash in the face of an ungodly monstrosity. Heck, this is made explicit in Persona 4, where the final boss reveals she was using three people to test humanity - one representing despair, one representing destruction, and one representing hope. You were hope, and as you finish her off, she declares, "Children of man... Well done!"
  • Given how prevalent this trope is, it's worth noting that Konami's Suikoden series averts it—the kobolds are largely portrayed as personable, but elves and dwarves tend to be very arrogant and xenophobic, and although most of the villains have been humans, it seems to be because they're more numerous rather than because there's fewer bastards in other races.
  • A recurring theme in the Lunar series:
  • Subverted in the Unreal series. Humans are bastards, sure, they run bloody sport competitions... but the Skaarj, a race of violent, xenophobic, savage reptiloid Bee People who believe all races besides Skaarj are inferior and exist solely to be reduced to slaves or wiped out for their amusement—or both at once—are bigger bastards by far.
  • While it doesn't have a Humans Are Bastards theme per se, the racial backstory in Dungeon Siege II doesn't exactly put humans in a positive light. It says that the human race has a dual nature, but it only mentions the negative, not the positive; it says that humans are extremely violent.
    • To be fair, there's the Dryads. You'd think that a race of attractive plant girls who have an innate connection to nature would be some of the nicest people around, right? Guess again. Most Dryads are quite militaristic (more so in Broken World), and are unusually suspicious of other races, especially the Half-Giants (though the Elf Amren seems to be on good terms with them). Plus there's that Ring of Submission they have, which senses your intentions before you've even thought of them and then does painful or even fatal stuff to you accordingly. For a race that doesn't like government, that's a pretty fascistic way to treat your prisoners.
      • Thankfully, there is an exception: Taar. She actually is one of the nicest people around and isn't all that fond of the Rings of Submission (which explains why she's glad to remove the player character's). In addition, since as of Broken World, the Overmage is dead and peace is slowly but surely returning to Aranna, only time will tell if the other Dryads will also lay off the testosterone.
  • This happens a lot in Starcraft. For example, Arcturus Mengsk is a Magnificent Bastard at best and a Machiavellian despot at worst. Kerrigan is at first horrified when she's left behind, but when she gets turned into a Zerg, she actually enjoys it. Plus a lot of Terran missions revolve around Civil Warcraft. By the end of the Starcraft storyline, there's only one good Terran left among the notable ones: Jim Raynor. Thing is, there are only two other races and they are pretty much the same, give or take.
    • Or to be exact, the Zerg overmind desires to kill/infest the human colonists... and the Protoss attempt to stop this by burning the worlds... while the people are still on it. The Protoss burn them not because it's the only way or even the best way, but because they found humans distasteful but didn't have an excuse to remove them until the Zerg came along.
    • Starcraft II does a much better job of showing Terrans as a mostly good race, it highlights Acturus Mengsk's Villain with Good Publicity, while following the exploits of a force mostly made up of idealists. The General that follows Valerian Mengsk is also willing to work with Raynor with no real objections. This is because the game is about how even when things look darkest, there is always the light of hope.
      • The books that introduced Arcturus's son Valerian show him as a pretty decent guy with a passion for history, while his father only focuses on the practical. About the only thing the father and son can talk about is Valerian's collection of antique swords, which Valerian sees as art and Arcturus sees as weapons. This is likely because he was mostly raised by his mother, while Arcturus was busy defeating the Confederacy and setting up his empire.
  • Warcraft shows many humans who are pigheaded and prejudiced against races they view as "savage", and if a racist character shows up, it's more likely than not to be a human. But like other examples on this list, the other races in the world have their own prejudices, ranging from the orcs refusing to accept their role in the atrocities of the first two wars, the high elves blaming the Alliance (that they left) for not saving them and continuing to practice magic despite the destruction it's caused and the Forsaken seeking to Kill All Humans, more than a few gleefully.
    • Of course, the addition of grayer and more evil humans is added Character Development for the third game and beyond. Before, the humans (and other Alliance races) were clearly the good guys, and the orcs were Exclusively Evil. This went away when they got that Burning Legion cleared up, but they still largely refuse to own up to their past sins.
      • They only refuse to own up to the rather distorted view of their sins that the Humans placed on them. Internally, many orcs from that era feel conflicted over the utter destruction they caused. While Thrall still led the Horde, he did everything he could to keep hostilities to a minimum, while humanity was more or less the Jerkass in such situations (Varian was the one to declare war on the Horde, not the other way around). The Horde under Garrosh, however, is a completely different story.
  • In Breath of Fire 4, this is the reason why Fou-Lu, the antagonist, turns into an Omnicidal Maniac and decides to destroy humanity. Having your girlfriend tortured into insanity so her body, mind and soul can serve as consumable fuel for a Fantastic Nuke aimed (and actually fired) at you can do that to a guy.
  • The fairies in the world of Drakengard subscribe to this viewpoint. The protagonist only ever meets two fairies, one of which is the king of fairies, and both of them, besides being annoying, feel this way towards humans to the point of being racist. Humans are big, dumb, ugly, smelly, stinky idiots to the fairies who can never get anything right and always destroy the forests to feed their infernal greed. Caim's dragon is also of this prejudice, but then again, dragons being arrogant and looking down on humans has pretty much been done to death.
  • Chrono Cross doesn't beat around the bush about it. Ever. Particularly blatant when the planet brings a nature-based empire from a universe where the dinosaurs didn't go extinct.
    • At least in this case the problem didn't seem to be blamed on humanity being evil, but that humans were heavily influenced and manipulated by Lavos, who uplifted mankind to the top of the ecosystem for its own purposes (To eat said ecosystem). So we're not world-wrecking monsters, we're just minions of a world-eating monster. That's a bit better... ish...
    • They are also called out by the Dwarves who kill the faeries because humans accidentally poisoned their home. Clearly accidentally poisoning someone's living place is worse than actual genocide. Really the only people who has any right to call out humanity are the demihumans of Marbule as they never tried to kill anyone else.
      • This gets especially jarring when the human heroes are misblamed by the fairies they just saved from the genocidal dwarves. Dwarves blaming humanity for their need to wipe out the fairies to settle on a pretty large island is already Insane Troll Logic (especially if you consider that their Green Aesop is completely broken by the fact that they use smoking Steampunk tanks). The fairies pulling the Humans Are the Real Monsters card in front of their saviors, completely blaming the dwarven invasion on them instead of, you know, the dwarves however is completely mind-boggling.
      • In Chrono Trigger every race got a chance to be a bastard, with the Reptites and Mystics waging wars in different time periods with the intent to wipe out humanity for ill-defined reasons. Even if humanity committed atrocities in the backstory that's a little extreme. The nature-based empire from Cross was the evolved form of the Reptites from Trigger which, to exist, likely killed off all the humans in their own timeline where Lavos never landed. Of course, it's humans that defeat Lavos and Save the World in the end (albeit with help from non-human allies.)
  • And that is not the only example to be found when it comes to the Tales (series). In fact, this is a major theme of Tales of Rebirth (along its Fantastic Racism), but the message is not "humans are bastards" as much as it's "all people, Humas and Gajumas, are bastards period". They hate each other because they do, and both do pretty nasty things to each other (some Humas refused to give medicine to a Gajuma woman while she was dying in front of her daughter, and some Gajumas chased an old couple out of town, forcing them to live in the middle of a desert filled with monsters). They get better... sort of. The end of the game implies that they keep on being douches, but at least the powers in command are doing something about it.
    • Lessee...Duke did have this view in Tales of Vesperia, although the Krytians were just as guilty as humans were of summoning the Adephagos. And not all of the Entelexia were good, after all. In Tales of the Abyss, humans were bastards but only to the replicas - which all had an Uncanny Valley effect on the populace. (Well think about it...if someone who looked and sounded exactly like your dead friend showed up at your friend's funeral, you probably would be a bit freaked out too!)
    • Tales of Legendia uses something like this as a plot twist. There are two types of people on that world, Ferines, the people of the sea, and Oerines, the people of the land. The game highly drops a lot of hints that one of them wasn't exactly native to the world. Naturally, you assume after seeing the technology in The Legacy that the Ferines weren't native. However, it's revealed in a surprise twist that It's actually the Oerines who are the aliens who came to the world in The Legacy, not the Ferines! They don't need land - they live in the water after all. Despite that in the past, one of the Human Groups Were Bastards, but so were the other to get revenge, and in that only some were bastards. (Quite a bit of the Ferines even want to start opening up peace talks again, once the Raging Nerifes was calmed down and replaced with the alter ego, the Quiet Nerifes, later called the Great Nerifes.)
    • In Tales of Symphonia, also full of Fantastic Racism, its starts out having you think that Half-Elves, in the form of Desians (who are running Human Ranges all accross Sylvarant) are the bastards and the humans are victims here. But because of their treatment by the Desians and how the Desians, who I remind you are half elves, treat humans, humans are bastards to half-elves. You slowly start to see how much humans can be bastards as the game goes on and the party reaches the parallel world of Tethe'alla. The Tethe'allans know of the parallel Sylvarant, and do whatever they can to make sure Sylvarant keeps going into decline to keep their world flourishing, buts not the main story point. Skip to deeper in the game It turns out that the reason half elves are bastards is because the angels who command the half elves are bastards, and the reason the angels are bastards, is because the big bad: Mithos Yggdrasil has deemed them so 4000 years before the game begins when Mithos' older sister Martel is killed by humans, which in turn makes him an evil obsessed with reviving his sister, insane bastard. Sadly, this is just the story, I haven't started on the individual characters who are straight bastards, and there are a lot of them, even if some don't seem like it when you first meet them.
      • Then you fast forward to ToS: Dawn of the New World, where racism still lives on, though its just toward half-elves, but after the worlds we fused in the last game, the Tethe'allans and Sylvaranti are bastards to eachother...then you realize that the Symphonia games are prequels to Tales of Phantasia...yeah.
  • Humans in the PC game series Age of Wonders almost always have leaders whose favorite pastimes include leveling elven forests, siding with demons and orcs for more power, and enslaving lesser races. This is despite the fact that they technically have a "Neutral" alignment.
    • In the sequel, however, they're mostly being manipulated by a vindictive Water Wizard.
  • The Therions (anthropomorphic animals, ranging from lion-men to gazelles to rhinos to panthers) of Jeanne D'Arc deeply resent mankind, a hatred stemming from how the very humans they assisted in the Demon War turned on them and corralled them all up in a tiny warren just outside Paris (where, previous to the war, the Therion kingdom extended all over Europe.) In fact, the few Therions that assist Jeanne and her cause are a minuscule exception to the rule.
  • The Lucas Arts adventure game The Dig hung a lampshade on this issue, when one of the characters tentatively points out to a friendly alien that not all humans are as nice as they are. Said alien cheerily replied that that's okay since all relatively young species are like that, and anyone who wants to pick a fight will just be squashed like bugs.
  • Dracula from Castlevania likes to toss out this accusation to whatever Belmont he's fighting, usually starting by mentioning that the only reason he's up and about is that some human woke him again. But the Belmonts are generally full of righteous fury and in no mood for discussing the idea, so not much comes of it.

What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets!

    • In some games it's explicitly stated that Dracula's continuous resurrections are not just because of individual Dracula-cultists resurrecting him, but that human malice and greed in itself allows him to continuously come back even when it isn't his will to do so. This may be more As Long as There Is Evil rather than an endemic thing, however.
    • He is also guilty of stimulating the trope. Consider the purpose of the titular Dracula's Curse/Curse of Darkness. Death's backstory in Judgment outright states that he is "sowing wickedness" in human hearts to help bring Dracula back.
  • Final Fantasy VII. The Planet is a living being that every single life form protects and loves, except for the vast majority of humanity. See, humans like to dig holes to suck out the very Life Force of the planet, mess with genetics to make monsters, and kill each other, in addition to polluting the environment around them. So, when the Planet's natural protectors (the WEAPONs) are activated to respond to the very real threat of the Planet's extinction, do they go after the Eldritch Abomination that desecrates life with its very presence? No, they go straight after human population centers and attempt to reduce them to ashes, in some cases succeeding, just to reduce the amount of human beings on the Planet.
  • In Final Fantasy XII, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting some non-human eager to remark on how power hungry we are, with a distinctly condescending and pitying tone. What nobody seems to mention is that while humans love to start their wars, they're also the only ones able to stop them, precisely because they're willing to wield power against power.
    • Also used with a Viera after the battle with one of the Judges in the frozen mountainside. Most of the people are injured or dead and some of the humans are begging a Viera to help them, but she refuses because she sees the humans as nothing but power hungry maniacs who kill everyone, including their own. It isn't until a few sidequests later that she sees the true good in humanity and decides to help the survivors.
    • The game either tries to mitigate this or is hopelessly hypocritical in that at least half of the other races (besides Viera) are not just criminals, but scum sort of criminals like slavers. And the Viera themselves are basically just a reskin of Enterprise era Vulcans in their manner.
  • Shows up again in Final Fantasy XIII. Your party spends a good chunk of the game on the run from the Evil Army while everyone else on Cocoon hates and fears you, even little kids. The populace of Cocoon even support complete Purges of residential areas where L'Cie have been spotted due to their extreme paranoia concerning anything Pulse related. To be fair, most of them only act this way because they believe Pulse L'Cie are horrible monsters that want to destroy everything they know and love. Furthermore, the Fal'Cie are the ones actively nurturing the populace's worse traits to lead them to destroy themselves. The only human portrayed to be a total bastard is Jil Nahbaat. Dysley's a bastard too, but he's disqualified since he isn't human.
  • Lineage II also has this to an extent. While the other races are pure and beautiful children of the elements, humans were made from the corrupted remains of each, and upon their creation, were immediately recognised as scum by everyone save their twisted creator.
    • This is quickly subverted in that the humans were enslaved by the other species and treated like trash for being second best at everything. Which won them the war in the end. ""So. Is it not ironic that the lowest creatures of all, the humans, ultimately attained ownership of the land? But that is the result of human will. Even the gods did not imagine that humans would ever become rulers of the earth."
  • At the end of Phantasy Star II, all the disasters turn out to be caused by earthlings, who, having stripped Earth of all its resources, have arrived to purge all life from Algo and take it for themselves. The Bolivian Army Ending doesn't leave much hope they can be stopped, either.
  • The entire point of B.B Hood in Darkstalkers is to exemplify human evil compared to that of monsters and such.
  • In the Star Control universe humans are hardly one of the evil races, but they have had their... poor moments. They designed a race of super-intelligent clones, the Androsynth, then declared them inferior and put them into manual labor. This backfired rather spectacularly when the Androsynth, being more intelligent than your average Joe, still invented hyperspace travel before the humans, escaped, and eventually joined the Ur-Quan Hierarchy, hoping for some sweet revenge.
    • Oh, and humanity also managed to collectively alienate the VUX by insulting their appearance in the first contact - ironically, humans look just as attractive to the VUX as the other way around (VUX is sometimes treated as an acronym for "Very Ugly Xenoform"). This would lead to a massive political crisis and, indirectly, to the VUX joining the Ur-Quan as well as, isolated, they could not match the Hierarchy. So out of 7 races in the original Hierarchy, humankind is responsible for two. Unsurprisingly, the Alliance (which humans were members of) eventually lost the first war.
      • ...And the VUX example is subverted when we learn that the "won't forgive you because of The Insult" is an excuse, but the real reason is they find us so repellant that they never even considered not going to war with us. So really, humans may be foul-mouthed bastards, but the VUX are just jerkasses.
  • Heavily subverted in Soul Nomad with Nereids (Juno in particular). Their view on humans is more like Humans Are Untrustworthy rather than full on Humans Are the Real Monsters. An extra level of subversion kicks in as unlike many examples of this trope, they're more willing to judge on an individual basis. The ones that pass are seen as potential mates. Despite being on opposite sides, Throndyke is still respected as a good man anyway.
    • Played straight since according to the official site humans are largely responsible for the tradition of war and conflict on Prodesto.
  • Subverted and parodied (in a straight manner) in Elven Legacy. The main characters, who are elves, will often (oh so often...) go on a rant about human bastardness, while at the same time acting either in equally bastardly manner or topping humans by quite a bit. Most blatant when the protagonist accuse humans of arrogance for daring to think elves would be humble enough to surrender their weapons and meet with their lord.
  • Humans' potential for Bastardry is the reason the Aerogaters and Inspectors attack Earth in the Super Robot Wars games in which they appear: The Aerogaters wish to turn us into brainwashed soldiers, while the Inspectors fear us becoming a threat, and try to keep us under control.
  • Most of the sentient races in Guild Wars are pretty bastard-y. Humans are the worst objectively, but that's mostly because they're the most numerous
    • The Charr are probably the worst. They turned Ascalon into a blighted wasteland, they eat humans (and like referring to humans as "meat". Even the friendly ones do this!). Their leaders pretty much sent the female Charr back to the kitchen (this backfires on them massively a few generations after Eye of the North), and so on
      • The Charr information is subverted by Guild Wars 2 lore as it's revealed that Ascalon is a massive Propaganda Machine. The Charr use 'meat' as a derogatory term, but the idea of Charr eating people was introduced by the humans to reinforce the vision of the Charr as 'mindless savages', when the truth was that they weren't so different after all. The Charr became Villains by Necessity as those who didn't obey the tyrannical Fire Legion (who had enslaved the Charr) were put to death. Eventually though the Charr overthrew their evil overlords and went their own way (abandoning magic and becoming very independent in the process). The Charr seem angry at the humans, but they aren't evil but rather are kind of ticked off as their first encounter with humanity was humanity engaging in an ethnic purge, trying to wipe out as many Charr as they could and stealing charr lands in the process. I think it's understandable that the Charr held a grudge. Furthermore, Ascalon had a case of revisionist history, often using propaganda to reinforce a positive view of humanity whilst painting the Charr as a faceless evil. The reason this propaganda was rehearsed so readily was to help the humans hide the Awful Truth from themselves - that with their constant warring between the three human nations, the attempted ethnic cleansing of the Charr, and having driven one race to extinction, they truly are the most horrible bastards that Tyria has to offer. Hell, the Charr refer to one of their 'greatest heroes' as 'Gwen the Goremonger.'
    • And then there's the Asura this is part of their official description, by the way: "Inventors, scientists, and spellcasters of every stripe, the Asura consider many other races beneath them and are not afraid to tell them so at every opportunity."
  • In the Toejam and Earl series, where humans and other earthly life aren't wantonly malicious and "unfunky", they're still weird. Friendly ones in the series include the Wiseman in a Carrot Suit and the Soul Sisters—a trio of black women who speak only in gospel song. In Toe Jam & Earl 3, you can convert most initially hostile Earthlings... such as chickens with army helmets and egg-firing mortars, and Creepy Child little girls with seemingly demon-possessed teddy bears. See? Weird.
  • The human deathknight Charna in Heroes of Might and Magic 4 is described as being capable of evil that 'even the demons balk at'.
  • A major plot point in Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, where humans have triggered an industrial revolution with dwarven technology acquired by Arcanum's richest businessman Gilbert Bates. As a result, the Forest of Morbihan has been transformed into the Morbihan Plain over a few short years, and the most industrialized city, Tarant, is also one of the most polluted. Members of other races such as dwarves and elves theorize that because humans have relatively short livespans, every action they take is motivated by the fear of their impending deaths, and they do not live long enough to see the consequences of their actions.
  • Revealed in one dialogue during Mega Man Zero 3, stating that humans of the dystopian Neo Arcadia only indulge themselves in food and comfort, letting the authorities do the thinking for them while regarding the conflicts Zero and Ciel have been fighting as mere daily news on the televisions. In Z4, Zero also further condemns humans fleeing from Weil's iron fist as cowardly beings who would do nothing about their refugee leader getting kidnapped just to avoid another war. It is not until Craft blows up the city do humans finally wake up with terrible pain in their minds.
    • Dr. Weil also implies in Zero 3 that Humans innately feel that ruling all the eye can see and making others work for them is the ultimate joy for them, and believes that no Reploid could ever understand this joy, although Zero counters this by stating that he doubts any decent human would understand Weil's viewpoint, either.
  • Prototype. The story is about a viral infestation that threatens Manhatten and potentially the world. The citizens' only "hope" is Blackwatch, an entire army of bastards who kill both infected and healthy people. You later learn that your character is not really Alex Mercer. The real Alex was a Complete Monster who unleashed the Blacklight Virus out of pure spite and died before the game began. The Alex we know is actually a personification of the Virus itself that copied Alex's genetic makeup. The Virus is absolutely disgusted that it's own creator let it loose on the world and spends the entire game essentially trying to save the world from it's own infestation and is even willing to sacrafice itself for the planet. When the Eldritch Abomination who was created specifically to destroy the world ends up being the most sympathetic and heroic character in the game, you know Humans Are the Real Monsters.
    • In the sequel, Mercer's growing disgust with humanity's flaws drives him to become a Dark Messiah bent on uniting the entire world into a Hive Mind so he can end all conflict.
  • Casually tossed here and there in Kid Icarus Uprising. Palutena notes, when talking about Magnus, that humans are fundamentally driven by desire, using the mercenary as an example. Hades gets humans to war with themselves to an insane degree by spreading the rumor of the Wish Seed. This draws the ire of the nature goddess Viridi, who begins attempting to annihilate humankind for their greed, violence, and wastefulness. Dark Pit seems to be the only one willing to tell the gods that they're just as bad, if not worse.
  • How humans in the Mass Effect universe may be seen by the other races. Within 30 years, humanity has rapidly expanded and forced our way to the top of the galactic government which has existed since we were in our bronze age.
    • Some of the human factions and characters easily qualify as this, especially Cerberus.
  • The villains of the Orochi Saga in The King of Fighters , namely the aforementioned Orochi, (ancient Japanese snake-demon/deity)and his followers, strongly believe this. To them, humans have ruined their world&the environment, though aside from that, they don't consider them all that great in general, to the point where they believe humankind should be annihilated. (Though part of this may also be that they serve a higher power, 'Gaia', but regardless of whether or not they're being influenced, this is still what they believe.) The Edit-Team ending even outright states that while Orochi still needed to be stopped, humanity still wasn't that great either, and that we were partially to blame for Orochi's purpose being twisted into what it became. Still, some of our heroes (as in, the various teams,) acknowledge this to an extent, though they don't think that humanity is completely un-redeemable.
  • Another work of SNK's, Last Blade, (technically set in the same universe, but in the 1860's in Japan,) has a similar villain. Kagami is one of four individuals that were gifted with powers by the four Japanese Gods, with Kagami representing the phoenix, but with time, Kagami grew disgusted with humanity, and with that belief in mind, got to work opening the Hell Gate, with the intention to suck Earth into Hell. In the sequel however, he's reborn, (after being sucked into Hell's Gate in the first game,) and by the end, after being forced by the God's into service once more, decides to personally give humanity a second chance.
  • Being in a Crapsack World, everyone everywhere in The Witcher could be called a monster, whether its humans for oppressing nonhumans, elves for creating their own terrorist army that kills civilians and steals from hospitals to fight this oppression, or witchers themselves for taking just about any job if it pays since the decline of the monster population they were originally built to fight. However, the end of the game sums it up pretty well when Geralt is about to kill the Big Bad Jacques De Aldersberg with his silver witcher's when Jacques knocks away his steel one with magic. He protests saying, "But... that sword... it's for monsters." Geralt's response is to silently stab him in the throat with it.


Web Comics

  • The Order of the Stick prequel book Start of Darkness does this, with humans killing off goblins and other races solely for being classified as evil, even if they weren't doing anything. However, the goblin Redcloak, whose village was slaughtered by human paladins and went on to become The Dragon, shows himself to be just as bad in his own way, with his hypocrisy and less-than-balanced view of humans being brought up both in the book and in the on line strips.
    • Tsukiko uses this as justification for her necrophilia in this strip. Humans are the antithesis of undead. But Humans Are the Real Monsters. Therefore, undead must be good.
  • Many (to most) furry-themed webcomics with humans in them (or even in the history of the world-setting) portray humans as essentially Exclusively Evil, with the furry characters suffering persecution such as slavery, hate crimes, being relegated to the status of animals despite clearly being sentient and capable of speech, etc. at the hands of said humans. There may be one or two humans that aren't cruel, bloodthirsty, rapacious complete monsters as a sort of token attempt at fixing the Broken Aesop, but not always. Of course, it's rather easy to do with furry comics which are a prime method of using the Fantastic Racism theme.
    • In Kevin and Kell, whenever humans show up they're generally portrayed as the equivalent of Sealed Evil in a Can (and once, literally). The inhabitants of the furry world often make disparaging remarks about how stupid our world is in comparison to theirs (in which sentient creatures constantly slaughter and devour each other without so much as a hint of remorse or guilt), and in fact portrays humans as so evil that introducing a single one into the K universe almost destroyed the world.
      • Actually, Kevin and Kell has lately disproven the theory that the mere presence or awareness of humans has an adverse effect on instincts. It's that characters moving between the worlds throw at least one of them off balance. Once the balance is restored, you can pay as much attention to humans as you like and not lose your instincts. In fact, it turns out that the animals are equally destructive to their own environments. It's promptly subverted in the next strip...
    • Black Tapestries at first shows this, with pretty much the main antagonist thinking that all Humans Are the Real Monsters, even though at a later point, the Kaetif (anthros) are shown to be just as vengeful as humans are.
    • In Jack, the Big Bad isn't Satan, but a human that has become the personification of Envy. However, he's the only remaining human in Hell -- it is assumed the rest have redeemed themselves and have moved on.
    • Twokinds: The only humans ever shown are Templar who seem to be Exclusively Evil with plans kill all of one race and turn the other race's brains into mush and enslaved them or perverted slave traders (the latter is actually a pretty nice guy though). Most fans have a Take Our Word for It mindset.
    • Newshounds has gotten really bad about this trope.
    • When humans appear in The Kenny Chronicles they tend to refer to Tarnekis as animals or rant about how they are a danger. Of course Tarnekis were created by pirates (who they are implied to have killed) and some of their ships were stolen (though the Ballyhoo was bought).
  • Lost the Lead is very, very guilty of this.
  • Goblins seems to have this a lot, where the perfectly nice goblins and other "evil" humanoids are always being persecuted by the bastardy PC races.
  • Terinu's race was wiped out by the humans, after it was discovered that they were the power source of the Big Bad. Made worse because Ferin are inherently adorable critters.
  • In Zenith, Zenith suffers a Heroic BSOD after getting shot at by humans and his Mama Bear dying because of them... well, sort of Zenith's fault for not being a man and dealing with a shot at his fin, but the other dolphins of the steel harbor tell him You Did Everything You Could.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal had a particularly good example as to why Humans Are Bastards
  • In Freefall, Zig Zagged heavily. Some people treat the A Is and Florence as just slaves. Many others treat them, and her in particular as people.
  • Played for laughs in Beartato and Reginald with Space Reginald's reaction to Earth.


Web Original

  • The Imageboard That Must Not Be Named. That is all.
  • The GIFT, as well as Troll and Griefer. Griefers wouldn't do half the things they do to you in-game to tick you off merely because you can shut the game off or hit them in the face. Trolls and other such types on the internet wouldn't say half the stuff to your face, because then that means you can get them back for it.
  • In the world of The Account, a podcast audio drama, one-third of the humans in the Midlands turned into an army of psychopaths and got exiled to Earth. No one quite knows why. Now that they're trickling back in, and apparently sane, they're treated somewhat gingerly by the natives.
  • Cradleland takes place on a planet populated by Transplanted Humans. Their ancestors were slaves who were sold to aliens by humans on Earth during the Middle Ages.
  • The eponymous Dr. Horrible laments that most humans are sheep and can't think for themselves. Obviously, only a complete overhaul of the system can fix this problem. Captain Hammer really only exemplifies this trope.
  • Gaea's Rising features cute, lovable, intelligent robots that humanity wants to wipe out, just because the robots don't want to be slaves.
  • Whenever The Nostalgia Critic runs into this trope in a film (almost always with a helping of Green Aesop), the review cuts to a newsreel-style condemnation of man's evil, complete with clips from the movie and an old-timey voiceover. It's finally subverted in the previously mentioned Once Upon a Forest, where the voiceover finally gets sick of the trope, announces most humans are alright, and showcases how much more dangerous animals are.
  • If Balloons Could Talk, then apparently humans would do all sorts of things that hurt and terrorize them just for the sick pleasure of hearing them cry out in horror and agony.

A pair of human hands hooks a balloon up to wires that conduct electricity
Balloon: You'd never bother to do this till I could scream back!

The hands insert the plug into the outlet and the balloon cries out in pain


Western Animation

  • Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest. On the villainous side, humans built a big-ass tree-cutting machine to clear whole swathes of the forest for the wood. On the stupid side, said tree-cutting machine wound up releasing Hexxus when it turned his tree into stacked boards.
  • Open Season depicts open warfare between a band of beleaguered forest animals and a pack of obnoxious redneck hunters.
  • The Animals of Farthing Wood, played straight in the first season, where humans are either evil hunters, foolishly ignorant, or completely apathetic as to how their actions are hurting wildlife. Balanced out a bit in the second season, with the arrival of the Park Warden as a human ally.
  • Ah, but then there's Hugh Harman's Peace on Earth, which you must see for yourself as no description we could give you would suffice. While beautifully animated and notable (even admirable) for its pro-peace message delivered in the middle of wartime, several Tropers agree that this merry Christmas (!!!) short is also easily the magnum opus of this trope.
    • Plus there's the part where the little squirrel kid says "I sure am glad there's no more men around". Most. Anvilicious. Line. Ever.
  • In Gargoyles, Demona believes this trope and attempts to recruit Brooklyn after a bad incident with a biker gang by giving him a tour of unpleasant incidents around New York. However, after Brooklyn realizes Demona is a backstabbing megalomaniac, he realizes he had been manipulated. It turns out that Demona is also a genocidal murderer who betrayed her own clan, there are other gargoyle antagonists in later episodes, and plenty of humans in the show are good people. As for the "lesson," when Brooklyn describes it to Goliath, he dismisses its damning nature with his inimitable authority as a "half-truth that Demona has thoroughly embraced, but it's not the whole truth." Goliath also states in the 5-part pilot that "There is good and evil in all of us, human and gargoyle alike."
    • Gargoyles overall has a nuanced view of this trope that makes it about as hard to pin down as in real life. After all, the thing that sets off the whole series is basically one of the humans of the castle trying to help the gargoyles (by forsaking his fellow humans), only for it to backfire in his (and their) face spectacularly; so you could take it either as "humans are good, bad, and everything in between", or "humans are bastards even when they try to be good", depending on how cynical you felt like being that day.
  • The Plague Dogs, based on a book by Richard Adams of Watership Down fame (see below), is pretty Anvilicious about mankind's cruelty to man's best friend.
    • While both versions of the tale are as depressing as hell, it's interesting to note that the cartoon has an even more of a Downer Ending than the original book. In the film, the dogs are heavily implied to have died at the end, whereas they go live with a nice "Master" at the end of the book.
  • Watership Down itself was pretty heavy-handed on that too. In the film, Holly's flashback to the first warren's destruction.
    • Also subverted at one point, when the farmer's daughter saves Hazel from the farm's cat.
  • Used and surprisingly subverted in the obscure animated movie Once Upon a Forest. An accident with a truck full of toxic gas drives away the animal inhabitants of a forest, and the kids set out to find a cure for their dying friend. The village elder, who was caught in a trap when he was younger, warns them about humans. But at the end of the film, it's the humans who come in to clean things up, surprising the elder.
  • While the live action The Matrix movies stick with heroic humans battling evil machines to keep the box office gross up, the Wachowskis apparently felt free to tell the real story in The Animatrix, where it's revealed that not only did humans start the Robot War purely out of Fantastic Racism (the robots literally came before humanity bearing flowers and open arms) and that the robots locked humanity in the Matrix purely as self-defense against genocide (and not to mention attempting to give them an utopia which human minds did not want), but that humans continue to do evil, twisted things to the robots in the "present day" of the series, tricking them and brainwashing them into thinking humans are their friends, and thus turning them into cannon fodder.
  • Futurama spoofs this trope in the Show Within a Show The Scary Door: a scientist declares that he's "combined the DNA of the world's most evil animals (a Lion, Scorpion, and Shark) to make the most evil creature of them all." A human then emerges from some sort of cloning tube, and just in case that's too subtle, declares, "It turns out it's man" in the most undramatic and dull way possible, just to parody the ham handedness of the way the point is often made by other shows.
    • Making this even more hilarious, this actually is the plot of an episode of The Twilight Zone, with Futurama's version just getting straight to the point.
  • The third episode of Justice League both provides an example and subverts this trope in a matter of seconds. Upon witnessing rioting and looting, Wonder Woman comments that perhaps her mother was right about humanity being savages. A moment later, Green Lantern is shown helping a couple of burly, typically biker-type individuals rescue two children from underneath some debris.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Wan She Ton, the knowledge spirit in the shape of an owl has come to believe this of humanity, saying that the only reason humans ever come seeking information is so they can use it to destroy others.
  • This is one of the main themes in the animated film Felidae. It's both played straight and subverted in regards to humanity's relationship with animals (particularly cats in this case). On the one hand there's Gustav ("Gus"), Francis's dim-witted yet otherwise good owner. On the other hand there's Pretorius, a scientist who experiments on cats while trying to create a special tissue-bonding glue. Most of the cats die horrible deaths, and Pretorius becomes a rambling alcoholic because of it. The only surviving cat, Claudandus brutally murders Pretorius and later develops a burning hatred against humanity.
    • Likewise, one of the cats, Felicity, believes that all humans are good stating that only humans would be kind enough to give a blind cat like her a home. Ironically, it's heavily implied that it was due to humans experimenting on her in the first place that she's blind.
    • Bluebeard at first believes that it's a human causing the murders stating that only a human would do something so cruel to a cat. Of course, it turns out to be a cat (IE:Pascal/Claudandus) committing the murders rather than a human. He also refers to humans under the slang term "Can-Openers", believing that humans are only good for opening cans of food for cats.
    • Francis gets into an argument with Claudandus, asking about the good men. Claudandus yells back "No! NO! There aren't any good men! They're all bad! ALL OF THEM!" Claudandus is even spitting as he yells this. Obviously, Claudandus's argument is flawed, because Francis's owner is a good man.
  • This trope, as it relates to animals, is spoofed in an episode of Family Guy where Death goes on a date with a woman who works at a pet shop. She insists that there'd be no more wars if people were more like animals, and he says "What are you talking about? Animals fight all the time!"
  • The movie Battle for Terra plays with this trope. The Earth is destroyed and what's left of the human race is forced to live in a military fleet which invades the peaceful title planet. While they are doing this by force and goal to the kill all the aliens they are portrayed as just desperate if you want to know why don't they just live together, the humans and terrans don't breath the same air.
    • Further played with in that the President and his council are Reasonable Authority Figures who want to explore all options before they go with genocide, but a coup happens with a General advocates an "us or them" position.
  • In Adventures of the Gummi Bears, the Gummis are in hiding because humans were too determined to get their hands on their technology.
  • Dantes Inferno: An Animated Epic - A major point Lucifer tries to make to Dante's captured wife's soul, Beatrice. Trying to convince her that mankind is forever destined to fall into hell by their weak minds and free will, he pushes the point further by filling her head with images of mankind's greatest atrocities throughout time, one of them an image of Adolf Hitler and his empire, which suggest that Lucifer can foresee the future.
  • The trope name sums up Zim's outlook in Invader Zim, although the humans are more guilty of standing in the way of Zim's plans for world conquest than being truly evil.
  • The villains of Terrahawks justified their plans of conquest by saying that the humans opposing them had a bloody history full of things a lot worse than what they were doing.
  • One Tom and Jerry short has Tom waiting in line to get into Heaven, as a "conductor" lets recently deceased cats onto the train if they were good. At one point he calls out several names, and we cut to see a dripping wet sack, which opens up as several kittens scamper out. The conductor sadly shakes his head and mutters "Some people..."
  • Played for Laughs on South Park, although it is more that the Adults Are Useless are Too Dumb to Live. Examples include "Prehistoric Ice Man" ("sometimes, what's right isn't as important as what's profitable"), "Here Comes the Neighbourhood ("And I want to assure the nation that is watching that South Park is not a town of prejudice or bigotry), and "Pinewood Derby" (where the Earth is cut off from the rest of the universe because the people are not worthy of joining the intergalactic community.) Of course anyone looking for a straighter version need look no further than Cartman.
  • Implied in the "Bolero" sequence of Allegro Non Troppo: Life on a distant planet evolves out of a discarded soda bottle. Eventually, apes (who are masses of black, sketchy fur compared to the brightly-colored cartoon animals and have red eyes set in black sclera) are revealed as cheating bastards who don't follow the animals' evolutionary path and eventually mess up the planet by creating war, religion, and destructive cities. By the end they have evolved into humans but on the inside they're still vicious, unsatisfied animals.
  • Ever notice that most of the antagonists on Tiny Toon Adventures are humans? Mostly Montana Max and Elmyra Duff but the only sole exception to this is Mary Melody, in fact there is a better owner for Furrball than Elmyra was.
  • Aaahh Real Monsters[context?]


Real Life