If the enemy race is Exclusively Evil (as far as your side's viewpoint is concerned, at least), why not simply exterminate them all? Including the children? Especially the children, so they don't rise up to become warriors. Let's just deal with the problem once and for all!
In and before the first half of the 20th century, this trope was quite unproblematic (although it became increasingly more frowned upon after the Middle Ages or so). Just kill them all, makes perfect sense. Then Those Wacky Nazis and World War II happened, and the trope was suddenly much less comfortable. Thus, stories more or less stopped highlighting this trope as something cool. Instead, it was sometimes made Darker and Edgier by introducing the counterpoint trope Genocide Dilemma. Other times, genocides committed by the good guys were simply downplayed, or the heroes' hands were kept clean by having entire enemy populations Hoist by His Own Petard along with their Evil Overlord, making some evil Self-Destruct Mechanism or whatever responsible for the slaughter of all the mooks. Of course, at the same time, villains became more likely to solve their problems by a Final Solution. Bonus points for it being passed off to the public as, say, extradition to a "new homeland for X group".
For a plan to count as a final solution, it must fulfill three criteria.
- It must be the genocidal extermination of a population or species of sentient beings. This extermination must be deliberately planned, not done by accident. (Actually carrying out the plan successfully is not required for it to be this trope, but killing off a population by mistake is not this trope.)
- It must be done for a practical purpose, intended to benefit a group (or an individual) that the problem-solver cares about. Crossing this line would be to drift into Omnicidal Maniac territory.
- In the eyes of the problem-solver, the victims either have no value or are so bad that killing them off is a good thing in itself. While there is a grey area where Final Solution and Utopia Justifies the Means can overlap, the former is not in itself a subtrope of the latter.
Reasonably sympathetic characters tempted to solve a problem by Final Solution usually treat it as a very dire Genocide Dilemma, but in some stories they get away with shrugging it off as if was unproblematic.
Anime & Manga
- The Manga/Anime Naruto has two examples:
- The culling of the Uchiha Clan when they tried to pull off a Coup D'Tat. From the Unreliable Narrator Complete Monster Uchiha Madara, he claimed this was due to the "discrimination" against the Uchiha Clan (despite all logic) which the Uchiha Clan got tired of. To preserve the peace in the village, Itachi had to kill his whole clan.
- The Bloodline Extermination in the Land of Water-again, Madara was behind it. Dozens of Bloodline Clans were exterminated, including Kimimaro's (though it was their own fault) and Haku's.
- In Gundam Seed, Muruta Azrael plots to exterminate all of the Coordinators (whom he views as genetic abominations), while his opposite number, Patrick Zala, plans to wipe out all the Naturals (whom he sees as inferior and unevolved). The end result is almost The End of the World as We Know It (which coinicidentally, is exactly what the true Big Bad of the series wanted). In Gundam Seed Destiny, Lord Djibril again tries to massacre all the Coordinators, while the Coordinators behind the Break The World Incident, seek the death of all Naturals.
- The Ishvalan Extermination Campaign in Fullmetal Alchemist. What started out as a relatively normal war soon escalated into a bloody massacre, designed to wipe out the indigenous population of Ishval. It was ultimately unsuccessful. The majority of adult characters are veterans of the campaign.
- Towards the end of Witch Hunter Robin Zizain is revealed to be working towards one of these. He wanted to use Orbo to empower normal humans to hunt witches. Until then the organization was forced to use witches to hunt others witches, but with the enhanced orbo that would no longer be necessary. With the STN's database he can systematically wiped them out. In his eyes all witches are afflicted by With Great Power Comes Great Insanity or will be eventually so he sees himself as justified.
- In After War Gundam X, the Frost Brothers, enraged by their own lack of Newtype potential trigger a war with the intent of exterminating all those who show talent as Newtypes. It ultimately backfires on them quite badly.
- Frieza's Genocide of the Saiyans in Dragonball Z by blowing up Planet Vegeta.
- Mobile Suit Gundam AGE has recently entered this territory. Not necessarily Vagan; their goal could be achieved without massacring all natives of the Earth Sphere. No, this is the intended goal of Flit Asuno, the first protagonist, for Vagan.
- In the Strontium Dog arc "The Final Solution," The New Church publicly claims that they're moving the mutant population in Britain to new homes in another dimension where they can live in peace away from normal human beings. What they're really doing, however, is rounding up mutants from their ghettos and dumping them in a dimensional wasteland to be stranded and killed by an Eldritch Abomination, but they know that nobody would make much fuss if they make it sound like a peaceful relocation program.
- Elf Quest: Siege at Blue Mountain: Part of Winnowill's plan involves killing the Wolfriders' immortal souls as well as their bodies. (Admittedly there are less than twenty Wolfriders, but they're still an entire race of elf-wolf hybrids.) She fails, naturally.
- In the Supergirl story arc during John Byrne's run on the Superman titles in the late 1980s, the three escaped Phantom Zone criminals the Pocket Universe terrorized Earth when they were released, and though its Earth no longer had Superboy to protect them, its version of Lex Luthor had built up a resistance force powerful enough to keep the Phantom Zone villains at bay. Ultimately the villains decided humanity was too much trouble to rule over and thus killed everyone outside Lex Luthor's Smallville citadel by burning away the Earth's atmosphere through destabilizing its core. They were punished for their crimes by the mainstream DC Universe's Superman exposing them to the radiations of both Gold and Green Kryptonite.
- In Supergod, Krishna was programmed with creepy nationalism - he's designed to protect "India" rather than "The people". And thus the genocide begins.
- Termight Empire in Nemesis the Warlock slaughters all aliens they ecounter in order to take over their planets for themselves. And because they're bigots.
- The Final Protocol.
- Tron: Legacy: The ISOs aren't perfect? Clu got a simple way to solve that problem...
- There's a certain SF film out there (Not Sarcastic, just don't know the name) about humanity having killed off an entire species for being Exclusively Evil with fire. This is downplayed, and the humans are depicted as bastards, as they really didn't have any reason to go on that planet and "clean it" of its creatures, which were presented as alternate dinosaurs minding their own business. This backfires on one of the least deserving characters, as he loses his family to one of those surviving creatures, and transports it in Earth's history... for some reason... that a ship commissioned to a mere soldier could even go accidentally back into the past... well, the hero wins and he has a new family there, so everything ends well for him and humanity.
- You're talking about Outlander. And if you watched the movie a bit better, the humans on Earth were just an abandoned seed colony of the Outlanders, the Outlander humans with the spaceships were the real humanity out there in the stars.
- Order 66.
- In the movie Thor, Loki attempted to use the Bifrost to destroy the frost giants which for most of the movie had been portrayed as savage and violent.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy starts out with some amoral bureaucratic aliens destroying Earth and mankind along with it, simply to make room for a new interstellar highway.
- In some versions of the franchise, the highway is a cover story for the real reason.
- Played with in The Illuminatus Trilogy. The bad guys kill off entire nations for not agreeing with them—or as snacks for elder gods.
- Left Behind Antichrist villain Nicolae Carpathia refers to the battle of Armageddon one year before it happens as "the final solution", obviously referring to dealing with the Jews in Israel.
- The Bible has many cases of this. Some carried out by various heroic kings, some carried out by God himself. In all cases, it's treated as a good thing. The most famous cases are:
- Noah and the flood—Mankind misbehaves? Let's exterminate all life on the planet! (Except for one family and their pets.)
- Sodom and Gomorrah—Mankind misbehaves? Let's exterminate all life in this small nation! (Except for one family—and maybe their pets, if they had any.)
- Invasion of Canaan by Moses and the armies of the Hebrews? Exterminate everyone in Canaan! Again, treated like a good thing despite one of the peoples that Moses exterminated helped him after he fled Egypt initially!
- The Amalekites and Midianites were also annihilated. God rejected Saul after Saul spared the Amalekite King and livestock, in fact.
- Book of Revelation—Mankind misbehaves? Let's exterminate all life on the planet! Again! (And as in the two previous versions, some good people get spared. And this time, good dead people are resurrected, too.)
- Played with in Jonathan Swift's Gullivers Travels: The protagonist discusses exterminating the (according to him, morally superior) horse people on the basis that they are too proud to be efficiently enslaved. However, he reaches the conclusion that it's better to just leave them alone.
- A breakdown in relations between the Terran Concordiat and the Melconian Empire eventually leads to both sides trying to wipe each other out in the Bolo series. They both almost succeed. Almost.
- In Ender's Game, the human high command's decision to destroy all the buggers certainly fits this trope, though Ender himself is not consciously aware of it.
- In the first Safehold book, Off Armageddon Reef, Corrupt Church Grand Inquisitor Zaspahr Clyntahn suggests the Final Solution to the problem of the lacking orthodoxy of the Kingdom of Charis and its potential threat to the Church. It is referred to as such frequently after the attack's failure.
- Harry Dresden does this to the Red Court by turning their own magic against them. The bloodline curse instantly kills the entire species, everywhere that they exist in the world. Like most heroic versions seemingly justified, there is not evidence that any of them were anything but totally evil. Of course, given that it was a spur of the moment thing, he didn't really predict the resulting vacuum of power that would result, nor how it would result in a world verging on Crapsack.
- Timeline-191: Jefferson Pinkard and Ferdinand Koenig coin the eponymous phrase which fulfills Jake Featherston's goal of wiping out all blacks in the Confederate states: "Population Reduction".
- The Ra'zac (who are a species of evil bird-bats that eat humans) in the Inheritance Cycle faced a dedicated campaign of genocide from the Riders. Eragon killed the remaining four members of the species in Brisingr.
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The Federation turns out to be hypocritical bastards by the introduction of "Section 31", an organization within Starfleet. Section 31 specializes in committing crime and passing Moral Event Horizons whenever it benefits The Federation. In the later seasons, an empire known as The Dominion declares war on The Federation because they fear that the humans will harm them if given the chance. Of course, Section 31 have the solution: Wipe out the species that rules the Dominion, exterminate every last one of their species through biological warfare. Captain Sisko is outraged by this plan, in spite of its indisputable strategic advantages and in spite of the fact that the Dominion had attacked them.
- To balance this out, in the Grand Finale, the Cardassians turn on their Dominion allies. What does the Dominion do? Orders their soldiers to carpet bomb the planet, with the goal of exterminating the Cardassian race. Luckily, they are persuaded to stop before this happens.
- But not before They've killed over 800 million
- In Star Trek: Voyager, The Borg and "Species 8472" are trying to do this to each other: It's a war, but their goal is to exterminate each other's populations rather than achieving some kind of victory where the enemy's people still exists.
- The whole thing started with The Borg trying to assimilate 8472, but the whole thing had already moved far past that point when Voyager showed up.
- The episode "Remember", where B'Elanna Torres realizes that a group of Enarans were responsible for exterminating a group of people called the Regressives through "forced relocation".
- There's a Show Within a Show example in "Living Witness", where an evil depiction of Janeway decides to exterminate an alien race by using biological weapons against their planet, killing close to a million people.
- In Firefly, the theme song line "burn the land and boil the sea" refers to what the alliance did to Mal's home planet.
- This is the Cylons' objective towards the humans in both incarnations of Battlestar Galactica. In the RDM version the humans attempt to do it right back to them when they discover a virus that is lethal to Cylons on an old space probe. They fail due to Helo's doing.
- This is a recurring concept on Doctor Who. The obvious holders of the trope would be the Daleks- Absolute Xenophobes who want nothing but to wipe all life but themselves from the universe. The Doctor himself has attempted genocide against the Daleks on at least three occasions. (It never quite sticks.)
- In Babylon 5, Edgar's anti-psi conspiracy edges into this when it's discovered they've developed a virus that will kill off active telepaths or make them addicted to a cure the conspiracy produces. Edgars himself arguably fails at the third point, as he views it as a piece of Dirty Business beyond compare and constructs himself as Necessarily Evil and trying to save humanity from the Psi Corps. It's a moot point either way as Psi Corps busts open the conspiracy and kills him.
- Had the second season of Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future been made, the Bio-Dread Empire would have shifted their focus from digitizing humanity to essentially this. Keep in mind that this is a family show that aired in weekly syndication.
- Supernatural's Lucifer planned to exterminate all humans from the planet, along with all the demons.
- Sliders: In "Prophets and Loss", an Evangelical Right so evil and powerful that it has outlawed all science and performs chemical lobotomies on "rationalists" claims to control an interdimensional portal to heaven. The heroes notice that it looks awfully similar to their own portal... but it doesn't actually go anywhere; it's just an incinerator tied to a special effect so that the church can vacuum up assets from the gullible and kill them. The Chief Oracle even describes herding unbelievers into these ovens as "the final solution." Take THAT, Jerry Falwell!
- In the Stargate SG-1 episode - The Other Side - a race known as the Eurondans beg help in defeating a vicious enemy which started a war that devastated their world and reduced them to hiding underground. Turns out the war was started by their leader's father and that they plan a final solution to get rid of the innocent race they term 'breeders' and hate because they don't practice eugenics.
- GURPS Aliens features one race prone to genocide and one that constantly gets genocided by everyone else.
- The former is a mad scientist race who take over planets and experiment on the population, then clean up their mess by killing everyone so there is no witnesses. Quite tidy.
- The latter is a sentient virus. It is colonies of the virus that are sentient, so every infected human or animal counts as one intelligent "virus colony individual". In spite of it being sentient, most races treats this species as if it was a normal disease that should be cured. (And no, destroying the virus is not needed for getting possessed people back: the virus is capable of moving to animal hosts and blank clones.)
- In Task Force Games' Starfire, the fanatically racist and warlike Rigelian Protectorate was completely wiped out at the end of the Third Interstellar War under the Alliance's "Genocide Decree".
- In Warhammer 40,000, the Imperium have a simple way of dealing with planets of its own population when they show sign of disobedience or whatever: End all life on that planet. Oh, and they are pretty fond of exterminating sentient extraterrestrials as well when they get the chance to do some "purging".
- This asubtle goal of the Orks. Being a race of Blood Knights they seek to fight all they see and eventually kill it.
- On a larger scale the Necrons employ this trope both to feed their C'tan masters and permanently sever their universe from the warp.
- This is no longer the case as of the 5th Edition update of the Necrons, which gave their backstory a complete overhaul.
- StarCraft: A rare "good" (of the Honor Before Reason variety) example. Being Scary Dogmatic Aliens as they are, this is one of the qualities of the Protoss. They're known of "healing" planets infested by the Zerg by purifying them. This also comes as one of the side plots in Starcraft II, where the player has to decide whether to side with Dr. Ariel Hanson (resulting in the mission "Safe Haven" and Hanson's departure from the Raiders to settle in Haven) or Selendis (resulting in the mission "Haven's Fall" and Hanson being infected by the Zerg cure and being killed later by Raynor) while discussing what's the best course of action in the planet Haven, being the target of a Zerg infestation.
- One of Anders' quests in Dragon Age II involves stopping one of these. A Complete Monster Knight Templar is planning to make all mages Tranquil, removing all their emotions and rendering them immune to Demonic Possession and thus, "safe" to the society. It's even called "The Tranquil Solution", just in case you didn't pick up on the comparisons to Nazi Germany (you later find out that even the Templar high command were disgusted by this plan, and repeatedly rejected his proposals).
- The Rite of Annullment on Circles that are judged beyond the hope of saving can be seen as this in the hands of Well-Intentioned Extremist Templar commanders, such as with the case of the Circle in Kirkwall when Anders blew up the Chantry in Dragon Age II.
- When you go to the Circle Tower in Origins, you quickly discover that the tower is infested with abominations, and that the Templars, quite to their commander's distaste, is just waiting for word from Denerim to initiate the Rite of Annulment. You can either save the mages from this fate, or save the Templars from waiting for a reply.
- In Prototype, the Blackwatch final solution to the virus outbreak is called "Operation: Firebreak", which is essentially nuking whatever location it has infested.
- In Batman: Arkham City, Hugo Strange's entire plan for Arkham City was to make the Final Solution the only solution. This was Emergency Protocol 10, a military countermeasure that bombards Arkham City with missile strikes until everyone- criminal or otherwise- is dead.
- In the Mass Effect universe, the salarians ended an interstellar war with the rachni by enlisting the krogan in exterminating them. Then, when the krogan decided to use the advanced technology that the salarians had given them to wage their own war of conquest, the salarians designed the Genophage, which caused 99.9% of krogan offspring to die during gestation. Whether the latter action constituted genocide is heavily debated in-universe.
- Before the Genophage, krogan reproduction was positively explosive. Their home planet was so harsh that a 99.9% fatality rate kept their reproduction in check. Once uplifted to the galactic community and in control of planets much much safer than their home, their rapid reproduction was quite worrying. The Genophage was introduced to keep their 99.9% fatality rate from their homeworld's extreme conditions intact regardless of where they settled. This is why the Genophage is still debated, and not just accepted as a clear-cut genocide.
- Samus in Metroid Fusion crashes the Space station infected with X-Parasites into the parasites homeworld to eliminate all of the ones in the ship as well as the ones left in the planet.
- Kefka's poisoning of Doma definitely qualifies under this trope, and most likely his destruction of the world by rearranging the Warring Triad.
- Order of the Stick:
- Vaarsuvius's partner and children are threatened by a vengeful dragon. Fueled by demonic and devilish magic, Vaarsuvius finds a solution to the problem: Vaarsuvius kills not only this dragon, but also any dragon that is in any way related to it -- a quarter of the Black Dragon population -- to stop the Cycle of Revenge.
- While he currently doesn't have the power to carry it out, Redcloak has mentioned this as one of his alternative long-term plans: Exterminate the humans and maybe the Gods, too to make more room for his beloved goblinoids.
- Done twice in Titan A.E.. First the Drej against the humans (which is rightly treated as villainous), then the humans against the Drej—and the latter act is treated as a happy ending.
- It is implied somewhere that the reason the Drej wanted to kill all the terrans was exactly because of what the Titan was capable of doing to them.
- It's also implied that this trope, and it's counterpart, boil down to; "If you commit genocide, it's perfectly okay for someone else to wipe you out." Or, "Genocide is okay if it's in self-defense. And kind of accidental."
- It is implied somewhere that the reason the Drej wanted to kill all the terrans was exactly because of what the Titan was capable of doing to them.
- A heroic example in American Dragon: Jake Long. The Huntsman plans to kill every magical creature on the face of the Earth with the Aztec Crystal Skulls. After finding out that his former apprentice has betrayed him for a dragon, he gets her to rejoin his side by presenting her with a Sadistic Choice, only to be betrayed by her as she uses the skulls to kill him and the rest of the Huntsclan (herself included) instead.
- The Air Nomads were wiped out in a massive genocide by the Fire Nation, a hundred years before the start of the show. Except, they missed the one person they were aiming for.
- The Grand Finale revolves around the attempt to repeat this with the Earth Kingdom.
- In its successor series the Big Bad wants to do a non lethal version of this by removing bending from everyone. It comes across as spiritual rape/mutilation in series and giving the abundance of Mundane Utility he would have to start another world war and its unlikely the debending process removes the chance children of the debended can inherit it which really just makes things worse given what you would have to do the debending process to children, the aforementioned spiritual rape/mutilation.
- The Grand Finale revolves around the attempt to repeat this with the Earth Kingdom.
- Futurama plays this comically straight in "Into the Wild Green Yonder" when Leo Wong wipes out an entire species of leeches (save one) to make way for a parking lot. Nearly averted later in the movie when the reborn encyclopod reluctantly decides to preserve the DNA of its now-extinct archenemy race, the Dark Ones. Zoidburg eats the remains before the encyclopod can do this, however.
- The Teen Titans get in on this trope with a race of spacefaring robots, on the grounds that said robots are bent on exterminating all organic lifeforms. Unfortunately, they do this on the word of a Fantastic Racist, who by the end of the episode decides to consider humans worthless.
- The Trope Namers is obviously the real-life campaign of industrialized mass-murder against Jews, Roma, Soviet prisoners-of-war, homosexuals, the physically and mentally handicapped, and many other racial or political "undesirables" committed by the Nazis' during World War II. Adolf Hitler also notoriously referred to the conflict against the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front as "a war of annihilation".
- The colonial army of Imperial Germany committed the first genocide of the 20th century against the Herero and Namaqua people in what is now Namibia. Overall, at least half of said populations were wiped out through mass executions, deliberate starvation and forced labor. Horrible medical experiments were carried out on children. Some researchers claim Hitler and his buddies were directly "inspired" by this genocide when deciding what to do with the "undesirables".
- Also, naturally, all of the other attempted genocides that this century has witnessed, most prominently the Rwandan Genocide (radical Hutus destroying the Tutsis and any Hutu with a conscience) and the Armenian Genocide (Turks trying to kill all Armenians in their territory; don't talk about this in modern Turkey if you don't want to get arrested).
- Ancient Rome:
- Gaius Julius Caesar allegedly did this to a Gallic tribe (note: not all of them), but it seems more probable that he only had most of their noblemen killed. Generally, he preferred diplomacy over genocide.
- Romans did execute measures at least very close to this trope in their history. The populations of Corinth and Carthage (both in 146 BC) were massacred (in case of most fighting men) or taken as slaves (in case of most women and children) and the cities themselves were burned into the ground. This was about as close as it came to the spirit of the trope in the Roman Republic.
- In the ancient period, the successful siege of a city usually meant the extermination of the adult males and the enslavement of the women and children.
- If the Old Testament is to be believed, the Israelites did this or something similar to the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Hivites, the Midianites, and the Amalekites.
- which some see as a metaphor for Nazism