Humans Are Cthulhu

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Do you ever feel, in your caves of steel,
The chill of an ancient fear?
Do you shudder and say, when you pass this way,
"A human once walked here?"

Newton's Wake, Ken MacLeod

Humanity isn't always on the low end of the cosmic totem pole. If a story takes the point of view of animals or relatively weak or primitive non-humans, there'll be a Perspective Flip related to Clarke's Third Law where modern humans—excuse us; MAN -- shall be seen as unnaturally and nauseatingly inconceivable.

The non-human creatures will usually consider Man as Exclusively Evil, and treat it either with wary respect or an odd reverence as a divinity. Whether it's borne from survival instinct or cultural baggage, most will be reluctant at best to actively resisting Man's activities, let alone be curious to know them, lest one would suffer in the most merciless manner a the hands of Man's Industrialized Evil. Possibly the Genre Savvy non-human society realizes that committing to major action against Man would risk breaking the Masquerade, crossing some sort of Moral Event Horizon, or is just plain suicidal.

To meet this trope, the non-humans must consider either individual (completely normal) Man or the Man's civilization as a whole to be:

One exception to this treatment happens when some non-humans, usually children, become pals with a human, again usually another child. The contact is treated as an exception rather than a rule, in that this one human is different and kind, while still considering revealing themselves to Man as a whole as endangering themselves. The non-humans who engage in this contact may or may not have their society's sanction to do so—it may be verboten and seen as risky, or alternately a useful tradition where they selectively reveal themselves to worthy humans. There are advantages to getting on a god's good side, after all.

The non-human society may be a Cargo Cult, primitive fantasy creatures or Insufficiently Advanced Aliens, a Mouse World, robots, or a Hidden Elf Village separated from human civilization.

See also Humans Through Alien Eyes and Humans Are the Real Monsters. In a way we are The Fair Folk and/or the Uncanny Valley to others in this trope.

Often results in Nightmare Fuel or a God Guise. May be a case of Obliviously Evil. Has surprisingly little to do with Humanoid Abomination.

Examples of Humans Are Cthulhu include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The manga Peach Fuzz might be an odd version of this. The ferret sees her owner as some sort of evil God, which she really isn't, instead of just an owner.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Humans are actually the real last angel and not the Ambiguously Gay White-Haired Pretty Boy that you thought it was, and your fellow man will be the final enemy. And they actually succeed in causing The End of the World as We Know It. Though it's kind of an It Was His Sled moment.
    • Except Angels are explicitly the offspring of Adam, while the Lilim (humanity) are the offspring of Lilith.
  • The Borrower Arrietty
  • The inhabitants of Crescent Forest in Happy Happy Clover view humans as this, even after Clover befriends a pair of human children.
  • Lotte no Omocha: Because humans are extinct in the Monster Realm, almost everyone in Ygvarland have no idea what a human looks like, so when a human was reported walking around in the schoolgrounds, the students imagined him as a long necked monster covered in fur.

Comics[edit | hide]

  • One of Alan Moore's "Future Shocks" from Two Thousand AD features alien nomads in search of "The Chariot of the Gods". When their leader insists that they've found it, they wait for the Chariot to descend to the ground from above them... and then they all get crushed by Neil Armstrong as he makes his first step on the Moon.
  • A good 1950/60's comic(maybe from Crypt?) tolds a story when a group of earthling(and American) scientists encounter an alien spaceship that come to dispose some of their ugly mutants caused by radiation. When the scientists opened the hibernation pod containing the mutants, it turns out that the mutants are Homo Sapiens. And quite good-looking by earth standards. The aliens' real appearance is left for the readers to imagine.
  • In Warren Ellis's Ultimate Galactus trilogy for Ultimate Marvel, he spends 3/4 of the series revealing the reimagined version ( a hundred-thousand-mile long hive mind of giant, world-killing robots) of the planet-eating Galactus from the mainstream continuity. When Professor X makes contact with Gah Lakh Tus, he is physically jarred by the utter horror and disgust that the being feels for organic life. In fact, the whole point of Gah Lakh Tus seems to be that of a universal exterminator, that can sustain itself on any planet's core energy, but is dedicated to seeking out and killing anything organic simply because we creep the living hell out of it. In the end, scrappy little humanity/mutants/post-Eagleland comes together and uses a horrific, multidimensional superweapon powered by aborting a baby universe with a hydrogen bomb, and giving Nick Fury an even bigger ego in the process. Maybe Gah Lakh Tus was right to shit itself over us.
    • Don't forget that in addition to that, Professor X modified Cerebro to link the minds of every human on Earth together to Mind Rape Gah Lakh Tus. After that double whammy, Gah Lakh Tus decides that trying to eat Earth isn't worth it and flees.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Bambi.
    • In Bambi 2, Bambi is lured by a deer call, thinking it's his mother's voice calling to him. Thankfully The King of the Forest pulled Bambi away in time to keep from getting blasted, telling him that's just another of Man's tricks.
  • Early in Fern Gully, the humans are simply remembered as a pack of sissies who fled the forest once Hexxus attacked. When Zack arrives, he tries to convince Crysta that humans are godlike, and that the marks they make on the trees are to frighten the "tree-eating monster" away. (He really should have just stopped talking while he was ahead.)
  • Watership Down and The Plague Dogs, both animated films based on books by Richard Adams.

Holly: Men came... filled in the burrows. Couldn't get out. There was a strange sound... hissing! Runs blocked with dead bodies!
[...]
Fiver: They'll never rest until they've spoiled the earth.
Holly: No... they just killed us because we were in their way.

  • In Happy Feet, a skua who was tagged by humans claimed that he was abducted by "aliens".
    • There is also an encounter with a fishing fleet that is as vast, awesome and implacable as any cyclopean temple or Ancient Astronaut.
    • And then there's the penguin Love-Lace, who thinks that the plastic six-pack holder around his neck is a gift from the gods—at least until he grows too big for it and it starts choking him.
  • Once Upon a Forest. They're depicted as alien and inscrutable (the only time we see a human above the foot level, he's wrapped in a Hazmat Suit). At the very end of the movie, the animals are shocked to see that they can also be benevolent, as they work to clean up the mess they accidentally made in the forest.
  • The humans-as-aliens idea appears in Antz (1998). A plastic-wrapped sandwich is "surrounded by Some Kind of Force Field", and an unseen sadistic human with a magnifying glass becomes a Flying Saucer with Death Ray in a clear take-off of the "It's beautiful" scene in Independence Day. Also the human at the picnic, who is practically a living mountain compared to the insects (all we ever see are his feet and legs).
  • The humans in The Secret of NIMH often come off this way—the humans aren't evil, just totally uncaring about animal life (most particularly in the plow and the flashbacks to NIMH).
  • In Monsters, Inc., the monsters are taught from birth that humans are dangerous and physical contact with them or any of their belongings must be avoided at all costs. There's also a government agency whose sole purpose is to detain monsters who have had physical contact with humans and decontaminate them. Naturally, this has made monsters just as scared of humans as humans are scared of them.
  • The exterminator from The Ant Bully.
  • This seems to be how the bees initially view humanity in Bee Movie, though that starts to change after the protagonist talks to a human.
  • In Rango, it's subtle but pervasive: humans with modern technology are treated like incomprehensible gods. Something mundane like a road is strange and incomprehensible enough to become integral to a spirit quest, seeing Las Vegas and it's sprinklers is like a vision of a cyclopian city, we have enough water to just dump it in the desert, artifacts like pipes are treated as a Cargo Cult, and the Spirit of the West...takes the form of Clint Eastwood in a golf cart, with Oscars as the Golden Guardians.
  • In The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, there is supposed to be a monstrous "cyclops" guarding Shell City that kills any creature that tries to enter. He easily (and accidentally) defeats Dennis (probably the toughest guy in the whole SpongeBob universe; the Strangler apparently being a close second) by stepping on him. He then takes SpongeBob and Patrick to his gift shop (which is Shell City) and throughout his scenes he is portrayed as a sadistic monster. He even has an evil laugh. And...he's really just the owner of a waterfront gift shop, sells tacky knick-knacks, and inexplicably never takes off his diving suit.
  • Played straight and subverted in Finding Nemo: the fish on the reef regard humans as terrifying, otherworldly beings (especially since they're wearing scuba masks, as seen in the picture above) and a source of fear and awe. The fish in a human's fish-tank, however, are sufficiently used to them to regard them more as a source of free entertainment, except the one that accidentally keeps killing fish.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The original Felix Salten Bambi novel. Early on, humans are just another predator, only they are the only ones capable of bringing down a deer (thus the deer protagonists' fear of humans). The deer then believe that humans are Gods, and only the cleverest of them have figured out that guns aren't just magic ("he is only dangerous when he has his third arm"). The humans' use of guns and dogs are a point of contention for the other animals, but mostly because it's just unfair. The ending of the book comes when the Old Buck shows Bambi a human who has been killed by a gun that backfired.
  • The Call of the Wild and White Fang, at least, have the wolves consider humans as gods—but not all of them are evil, and White Fang manages to develop a positive relationship with a benevolent human. On the other hand, Buck killing a human at the end of Call of the Wild completes his transformation into a wild beast, realizing that they are just as mortal as any other prey.
  • The short story Menagerie: A Child's Fable (which is actually not at all meant for children) is about a group of animals in a pet shop who figure out a way to escape their cages once the owner of the shop mysteriously vanishes, and form their own society. The animals, especially the owner's dog, view their master as a god who has abandoned them, despite the fact that he was horribly cruel, and at the end the dog wonders if their society crumbled because of their losing faith that he would return.
  • In Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book humans are recognized as another animal, but also as something else strange and terrifying. Mowgli is the only animal immune to Kaa's hypnosis, and the other animals can't look him in the face: Bagheera says this is why the wolf pack ultimately turned on him. The story "How Fear Came" says that man came to the jungle as a punishment, bringing fire and terror.
  • George R. R. Martin's story Sandkings, which was made into an Outer Limits episode. The title aliens worship their human owner until he mistreats them.
    • See also Theodore Sturgeon's "Microcosmic God", in which a scientist creates hyper-accelerated intelligent creatures, who regard him as a god. They surpass human technology, and the scientist passes off their inventions as his ... for a while.
  • The Silverwing series by Kenneth Oppel deals with this, particularly the second book, Sunwing. The bats get caught up in a human war when captured, placed in first a false paradise (a conservatory or somesuch) and then exploited, using a fictionalized version of the "Bat Bombs" tested by the US in World War II. At least one of the protagonists loses his parents this way. The humans in the series occasionally simply band bats (just for research, but the bats don't know that). Some colonies of bats believe that humans are evil and banded bats are exiled for fear they will bring bad luck. Other colonies believe that humans are good and the bands are a sign that humans will one day soon help the bats defeat their enemies which leads to a scene in which Goliath appears decked out in dozens of metal bands -- implying that he killed and ate the bats wearing them previously. The protagonists constantly question exactly whose side the humans are on.
  • Watership Down. Humans are portrayed as a force of nature and their influence is everywhere. Every single plot point in the books and the state of all four warrens somehow relates to humans. For example, the entire justification for Efrafa's police-state regime is to conceal its existence from Men. In addition, the description of the human technology that threatens the first warren is Lovecraftian in style, and fiver's mystical visions warning him of the coming of humans (a presumably unintentional paralell with the actual story "The Call of Cthulhu") emphasize this perspective.
  • The Plague Dogs, by the same author. At one point, the fugitive dogs discuss whether or not it's possible that humans can communicate across great distances. While they eventually conclude that it's a silly idea, they mention lots of other things—like making the sun shine indoors just by touching a wall—that demonstrate just how many "miracles" (from the canine perspective) we perform every day, without even thinking about it.
  • In the second tome of the Empire of the Ants trilogy by Bernard Werber, the local ants try to exterminate humans (or "fingers"). However, they seriously underestimated our numbers, and their only victory was against a picnicking family, where they made a child seriously ill by pouring wasp venom inside a light wound. After that encounter they realize they were underestimating our numbers and they reevaluate a bit.

"I now estimate there are between 100 and 150 Fingers on the planet".

  • Wonderfully evoked in the short story The Horror Out of Time by Randall Garrett, which appeared in his 1980 anthology of pastiches, Takeoff! In the typical Lovecraftian manner it is a first-person account of the narrator's discovery of prehistoric ruins on an island recently lifted from the floor of the sea, his entry into what appears to be a temple there—and the mind-breakingly horrific sight of the crucifix, complete with Christ figure, that he finds on its back wall, at which point the reader finally realizes the narrator is not a Victorian human, but some other type of creature which evolved long after mankind disappeared:

The creature's horrible five-fingered hands and five-toed feet were nailed firmly to a great stone cross!

  • The cats in Warrior Cats view Twolegs (AKA humans) this way, although they also consider us to be somewhat silly (for doing such things as playing in water or riding on horses). That said, they do have a healthy respect for man, particularly our "monsters" (motorized vehicles), which at one point destroyed their entire forest home, forcing them to find a new one. Some of them, especially ones who used to live as pets, know very well that humans are not Exclusively Evil, just unable to understand cats, and even remember their old owners affectionately, though they tend to pick up the wild cats' habits and hide whenever humans come around.
  • Clifford Simak's City.
  • Averted in A Rustle in the Grass by Robin Hawdon, a novel about ants told in a Heroic Fantasy style. Only one old ant has even heard legends of humans ("If such creatures exist, our activities would be but a rustle in the grass to them"), and the other ants scoff when scouts return with wild reports of a giant creature standing in the middle of the river without being swept away. Although the campfire lit by the man later proves crucial in fending off an invasion by a more aggressive species of ant, the man himself is regarded as neither good nor evil, but simply a colossal beast with strange abilities.
  • There is a short story where someone is running from "the dark ones", who chase them relentlessly before bringing them down by impaling them. The Reveal shows that the person being chased is a whale.
  • A.E. van Vogt's short story The Monster (also titled "Resurrection"), summarized here, has an alien expedition reviving (and then re-killing) specimens of long-extinct Man. The later specimens, representing humanity's far future from our point of view, have developed preposterously advanced psychic powers that terrify the aliens into committing suicide.
  • Gordon R. Dickson's Danger -- Human! is similar. The various alien species of the galaxy have records reaching back to a particular point in history, where a terrible catastrophe whose nature is now lost to the ages wiped out nearly everything. The only surviving records include a map indicating Earth with the note indicating extreme danger. A research group eventually decides to capture a lone ordinary human, under the tightest possible security that they can muster, to study and perhaps figure out why. As one can probably guess when exposed to this treatment the human in question snaps. He manages to miraculously overcome all of their security measures through human ingenuity and an unexpected immunity to death rays. He steals a starship and is last seen on a course back to Earth. The head researcher realizes what's going to happen next and despairs.
    • Dickson also wrote a story titled "The Monster and the Maiden". The "monster" is a scuba diver. The "maiden's" home is beneath the surface of Loch Ness.
  • Toyed with in the Nomes Trilogy by Terry Pratchett. The characters are nomes, four-inch tall humanoids with a ten-year lifespan. To them, humans are very slow-moving creatures with voices described as "mooing". For quite a while the nomes think of humans as stupid, despite one group scavenging trash from a fast-food restaurant and the other group inhabiting a department store. The latter group considered the creator of the Store, Arnold Bros (est 1903), to be some kind of god living in the highest levels, but they didn't think of him as human. The main protagonist of the trilogy, Masklin, once thinks that humans must actually be quite intelligent, maybe as intelligent as rats. Later, he starts to understand that the bizarre and harmful things they do aren't done out of malice, and that it really is their world. He does wonder what it's like to live "forever". In the end his viewpoint, at least, is that humans were ignorant of the nomes all along, and as a species are lonely.
    • Of course, the third book of the trilogy reveals that the talking box the nomes have been carrying around for thousands of generations is actually an artificial intelligence inhabiting the command module of the main computer of the huge starship that the space-faring ancestors of modern day nomes arrived in on Earth. A ship that is still "parked" under the surface of the moon. Which makes the nomes of old an alien species.
    • Fray, the destructive force of nature of which The Carpet People (by Terry Pratchett) live in constant fear, is presumably some human activity. Most likely footsteps, but it might be a hoover. Beyond that, humans are The Precursors, given the entire world is inside a shaggy carpet and the major resources are metal from a dropped penny, wood and ash from a matchstick and rare varnish from the distant Achairleg.
  • On a funnier note, Wuffles from Pratchett's The Truth refers to his master, Lord Vetinari, as God. This is lampshaded by Gaspode the Wonder Dog, who admits that Wuffles' views are rather old-fashioned. Of course, Wuffles' master is Lord Vetinari. There are humans who believe that he sees and controls everything.
    • The fact that most actual Discworld gods can barely find their own noses without a mirror makes Wuffles' faith in his master even more justified.
  • More seriously, Granny Aching casts humans as an ethical Cthulhu in The Wee Free Men, in her "We have a duty" speech to Tiffany. Humans are like gods to livestock, ordering their births and deaths, but have a corresponding responsibility to care for and defend them.
  • Taken to its logical conclusion in Flies by Isaac Asimov. A maker of fly spray can't figure out why flies constantly circle around him, joking that he must smell like a lady fly in heat. As it turns out, they believe he's a god punishing them for their sinful ways. This is one of the few stories Asimov wrote that qualifies as horror, particularly when you realize the Aesop he's leading up to . . .
  • Alan Dean Foster's science fiction trilogy The Damned has two vast coalitions of aliens at war with each other for millenia across the Milky Way. One faction (the good-guy underdogs) discovers Earth and finds that compared to every other known intelligent species modern-day humans are unbelievably fast and strong and savage, both physically and psychologically (none of the other species is particularly good at the concept of "waging war"). They ultimately decide they have no choice but to recruit humanity to their cause anyway, knowing that once the war is won they'll have a very dangerous situation on their hands trying to figure out how to live safely with their allies.
    • His short story With Friends Like These... takes a look at the theme from another angle. Ages ago, the old galactic civilization deemed humanity too dangerous and sealed off Earth until it became a myth, but now aliens needs Mankind's skill at battle against another alien race. So a few representatives go to Earth, see a quiet pastoral culture relaxing in a hammock, and ask the "mythical creatures" to help. Cue the little shock when aliens see that humans are so calm because their hammock is too high on The Kardashev Scale to worry. Not only have humans evolved psionic powers and are in telepathic contact with various other mammalian species (which presumably they Uplifted), not only is the whole planet filled with machinery and computers for miles below the surface, but the entire freaking planet Earth (with moon) breaks orbit to follow the aliens' starship!.
    • A story-within-a-story seen in Carnivores of Light and Darkness tells of two warring anthills contacting a man, probably to get him to help destroy the other mound. One group of ants sees this as a divine miracle.
  • Mike Resnick's novella Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge follows a group of alien archaeologists studying Earth after the fall of the vast, tyrannical Empire of Man and extinction of the feared human race.
  • Andrea I. Alton is the author of Demon of Undoing, a novel set on another world where the dominant species is a catlike race. Their culture is incredibly rigid and bound in protocol, so when the spacefaring humans come to their world and are stranded, the humans get labeled as "demons" for the way they shake up the society due to "revolutionary ideas."
  • Stephen King's short story I Am The Doorway (appears in the collection Night Shift) combines this with Eldritch Abomination when a Lovecraftian alien invades the body of an astronaut and makes him do unspeakable things to his fellow men. It is eventually revealed that the creature is behaving this way because it finds humans just as horrifying as humans find it.
    • Also in From a Buick 8 there is a mutual exchange of absolute revulsion and horror as the intelligent beings that dwell through the Buick's portal find humans as mind-rapingly alien and horrible as the humans find them.
  • In Saturn's Children by Charles Stross, humanity died out long ago and left behind a race of intelligent robots that took its place. The book deals with a plot by a consortium of wealthy robots who are trying to recreate a living human, which could have cataclysmic effects on robot society because obedience to humans is still hard-coded into their programming. A military organization called the "Pink Police" is dedicated to ensuring that something like this never happens.
    • Biological matter ('pink goo replicators') is viewed by the robots with approximately the same horror as nanotech in some modern sci-fi: there's no off switch and every single cell contains its own repair/reproduction machinery!
  • Richard Ford's novel Quest For The Faradawn features a human raised by animals (a la The Jungle Book), going on a quest to save the animals from the murderous savagery of a human civilization that is explicitly described as Exclusively Evil.
  • The Toad series by Australian Author Morris Gleitzmen is about a toad named Limpy's plans to save his family from the wrath of humans.
  • There's a short story out there called "The Hunters" where the world is invaded by ferocious and pitiless aliens who relentlessly destroy all of civilization. The Reveal is that this is another planet, and the invading aliens are actually human conquerors.
  • Oddly enough, the short story "Memory" by H.P. Lovecraft.
  • Mark Twain's short story "Some Learned Fables for Good Old Boys and Girls" involves a group of animals who set out on a scientific expedition, defining the works of Man as best they can. For example, a speeding car becomes first the Vernal Equinox, then later the Transit of Venus. http://books.google.ca/books?id= [dead link]Fga 1 su D Gz Vs C
  • Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series has this to some extent. Humans are twice as big as the aliens known simply as the Race, and evolve far more quickly than the Race or the other two sentient species they'd encountered beforehand, so they're not prepared at all when they invade Earth during World War II, their expectations based on recordings from 800 years before. It reaches its apex at the very end of the series, when humans are able to create faster than light travel by extrapolating off the Race's technology, leaving them firmly in control of the situation that had been an uneasy balance for several decades.
  • A Leprechaun's Tale by Steve Doyle.
  • Anticipated by the title of I Am Legend. At the end the last surviving human foresees that the coming society of vampires will remember him as a mythic horror, the Stalker Of The Daytime, the Killer That Walks In The Sunlight.
  • In The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, Mr. Tumnus has a shelf full of books that describe humans as purely mythical, or potentially so.
  • Stanisław Lem’s Bajki robotów (“Robot Tales”) is a collection of bedtime stories robots tell their kids. Most of them avoid mentioning humans, but those that don’t treat them as eldritch horror: whatever they touch starts to rust and mold, they can topple whole civilizations, and they are mind-bendingly ugly. Although they are considered extinct, legends predict that one day they will rise again to take revenge at their creation. Luckily, they are probably just a myth and never existed in the first place…


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

G'Kar [lifts an ant from a flower and then puts it back]: I have just picked it up on the tip of my glove. If I put it down again and it asks another ant, "What was that?", how would it explain? There are things in the universe billions of years older than either of our races. They're vast, timeless, and if they're aware of us at all, it is as little more than ants, and we have as much chance of communicating with them as an ant has with us. We know, we've tried, and we've learned that we can either stay out from underfoot or be stepped on.

    • Interestingly enough, in a later season they attempt to contact the same aliens to fight against the shadows. Ivanova manages to convince them by diplomatically using the most recognized language in the universe...insults.

Music[edit | hide]


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • The "Eyeballs in the Sky" Running Gag from The Perishers, in which a society of crabs in a rockpool worship a pair of giant eyes that appear once every year (when the gang goes to the seaside). Not exactly this trope, though, as the eyes don't belong to a human but to a dog.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

"An empire vast, greater than the infinite, older than the time before time, the immaculate embodiment of might, Gods to the gods, power and radiance and grace and terror and grandeur pure, love and hate and ecstasy and death, walking the worlds as they please, striding time as others would walk across a room, conquering as others would breathe, endlessly, feared and beloved as no others are. The Union is of humanity in only the same sense as humanity is of the bacteria that its cells are evolved from. They are Precursors to all that now is, Elder things, with knowledge and wisdom reclaimed each time from an infinitude of past cycles. They are children to none but Josh, Source-Of-All, younger than none, older than all, firstborn and greatest."

  • In Warhammer 40,000 the Imperium of Man is the defacto galactic power. It stretches across a million worlds, has entire solar systems devoted to industry and can burn offending planets down to the crust. Over a million fanatical Super Soldiers bring fire and death to its enemies; and that's not mentioning the battle nuns, city sized mechs and billions of common soldiers humanity can field. To top it off, it's led by a literal Physical God who gets stronger the more people worship him - and he has uncountable worshippers. While it has problems with the extragalactic swarm of locusts the Tyranids, the extradimensional Chaos Gods and the star gods the C'tan, anything else is just screwed.
    • Not to mention that the Imperium routinely exterminates lesser alien races daily. The prehistoric Tau would have met this same fate if a chance warp storm didn't suddenly cut them off from the Imperium.
    • And then, some count the Emperor of Mankind himself as the fifth Chaos God, and in that case absolutely the most potent and terrible of them all once freed from his mortal shell.

"For more than a hundred centuries the Emperor has sat unmoving on the Golden Throne of Earth. He is the master of mankind by the will of the gods and master of a million worlds by the might of his inexhaustible armies. He is a rotting carcass writhing invisibly with power from the Dark Age of Technology. He is the Carrion Lord of the Imperium for whom a thousand souls die every day, for whom blood is drunk and flesh eaten. Human blood and human flesh - the stuff of which the Imperium is made. (...) Forget the power of technology, science and common humanity. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for there is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter and the laughter of thirsting gods."

    • Hell, even with all the talk about the Imperium is "rotting" the truth is it's the opposite. The Imperium has gotten stronger over the last 4,000 years; the only reason why the current age is called the "Age of Ending" is because all its enemies are ganging up on it at once. And the Golden Throne is failing, and the Astronomicon is going out.
  • In Traveller the Vargr think this about humans because the human organizational ability is beyond the comprehension of the Vargr. Vargr Space Pirate s might "only" sack one colony and an armada containing people from dozens of parsecs away might set out in a machine like manner to pay them a visit. Zhodani, of course, are the spookiest of all humans-even to other humans. When one of their outposts is raided, they prefer to go the Best Served Cold route, carefully searching out the perps for years then when they find them, taking Revenge in a variety of ways, which could involve the ever-popular standby, Death From Above, but might also involve such subtle means as kidnapping and brainwashing the Vargr's leader. In general, in the Traveller universe you do not want to mess with humaniti.
  • In Kult, Humans are immortal superbeings, they are just slumbering and are unaware of their power. The powers that be try to make sure that they don't learn how to change this.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In SimAnt, one of your objectives as an ant is to drive away the human (whose feet and lawnmower are the greatest threats ants face while above ground). Once this is done, a "For Sale - Any Price" sign appears on the overworld view.
  • The ending of Yorito Nagai in Siren 2/Forbbiden Siren 2: he enter in a dimension dominated entirely by Yamibitos LIVING LIKE NORMAL HUMANS. Nagai, dominated by the horror, shoot his machine gun against all. A new archive adds to your inventory, the "Yamibito´s Diary". The owner writes: "A terrible monster fell from the sky. The monster was destroyed, but others of its kind still remain in their nest."
  • In the point and click adventure game Inherit the Earth, the various inhabitants of the world are uplifted animals who revere humanity as gods, complete with a creation myth at the end of which humanity dissapears into the heavans.
  • Chrono Cross advances the idea that humans are slowly destroying the planet, and that they became such enemies of nature because of long-term exposure to Lavos, an eldritch abomination itself that was the villain of the previous game.
    • While Lavos was using humans for it's own ends, the idea that humans are enemies of nature is dubious and given only by biased sources, like the dwarves (who pollute and construct giant toxin spewing steam tanks) and the dragons (who are part of an Evil Plan against humanity and are probably just upset that the technology of Chronopolis utterly kicked the ass of it's hippy dinosaur equivalent).
  • Devil Survivor 2 gives us one demon who certainly feels this way after suffering a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from one of your human allies.

"How do I put this... Humans have become such dreadful beings."


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • In Kid Radd, somebody uses the term "humanlike power" as we might say "godlike power." They're treated as gods, and many characters spend a good deal of time contemplating the implications and cruelty of what most videogames are created for. Though it's the villains who try to Rage Against the Heavens. Pretty accurate, really, except when they assume the humans know what they're doing (and that all humans are programmers).
  • Referenced in this Questionable Content strip:

Dora: "I've totally seen you take muffins into the bathroom."
Faye: "I like to grant them one brief, horrifying glimpse of what awaits them in the Muffin Afterlife before devouring them. I am Muffin Cthulhu."

  • Captain SNES has the sprites view the Creators as gods, who sent one of their own to help Videoland in its time of need. However, some of those Touched find out that the people who made them had done so for their own entertainment, which, considering that involves the deaths of many of their loved ones done for a child's plaything, they get pretty damn pissed.
  • The animals of Kevin and Kell have had little exposure to humans, but they believe that habitat-destroying behavior is a defining attribute. In support of this perception is the secret future of the human world known to time travelers, in which humans render the planet uninhabitable to most species, including themselves.
    • Exposure to humans exacerbates the condition of "domestication", which dulls the senses and causes a general loss of survival knowledge.
  • Someone made the case that Parson is an eldritch abomination to the people of Erfworld. Forbidden knowledge, ability to break the (for them) set-in-stone physical laws of Erfworld, has already lived for thousands upon thousands of turns, unholy intelligence and learning - face it, he is Nyarlathotep.
    • It gets worse. Erfworld runs on Bloodless Carnage, so biologically speaking, Parson may be the only being in the world with a circulatory system. He may be the only organism that exists on a cellular level...at any rate, his biology and physiology are utterly alien, and he's a native of a universe with completely different physical laws...
    • Also, there are words in his language that cannot be uttered in their universe. Specifically, even mild swears are automatically censored. And then he broke that restriction by sheer force of will.
  • To the Basement-dwellers in The Mansion of E, humans have become legendary boogeymen.
  • This strip of Amazing Super Powers.
  • In Twokinds, Humans regularly show up and enslave the Petting Zoo People after completely wrecking their towns. Humans also live about four times as long as they do (80–90 years to their 20-30), and can use Magic without relying on its crystallized form. The Petting Zoo People think that humans are devoid of mercy or compassion, and that they eat the ones who can't be used for slave labour. A Keidran's reaction to an average human is, understandably, just short of pants-shitting terror. However, some have figured out that humans are really just sparsely-furred sentient apes with a slow metabolism and a mean streak, and thus die just as good as anything else when you shoot them with poisoned arrows.
  • Off White: The wolf Gebo, upon seeing a human with a gun on a horse, interprets this as a two headed elk with a voice like thunder.
  • Science and Ink has "Fear of humans", where one bear demonstrates to another why the humans should be avoided.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In plush toy psychiatry game Die Anstalt, the toys' owners, who so mistreated them, are so mysterious and vague they seem like an alien gods to them. They're all represented with the same barely-humanoid girl silhouette. Her pigtails look like antenna and one time she's introduced with Also Sprach Zarathustra.
  • The modern weapons technology of humanity causes the invading Legions of Hell to see modern humans as this in The Salvation War. This is mostly because, in demonic time frames, a few centuries is nothing and the last time they visited humans were pretty much helpless, easily slaughtered sheep. Imagine their surprise when they came to claim Earth after it was condemned by Heaven to the demons and found that the humans suddenly had the "magic" to slaughter great numbers from afar. But this was nothing compared to the reaction of one of the Demonic Grand Dukes who surrendered to the humans when he learned about nuclear weaponry:

Abigor was sitting on his couch, mouth agape, staring at the screen as the credits rolled by. What sort of gods were the humans, to be able to destroy a city with a single bomb? He closed his mouth, then shook his head. A single bomb, capable of annihilating an entire city. An entire army would be nothing. They had played with him, when they could have destroyed him and everyone with him with ease.

  • No humans you are the Old Ones. [dead link] And everyone is very comfortable with that.
  • This track from Rob Balder seems at first to be an inversion—humans are the Beverly Hillbillies of the galaxy—but by the end of the song, the alien narrators seem to be afraid they're underestimating the danger.
  • "Humans are insane." from /tg/'s archive. Also try "We Made A Mistake" for a case study. NSFW for the usual 4chan flavor.
  • Another /tg/ original, The Veil of Madness, tells of how when humans finally achieved interstellar travel, they came across the remnants of countless alien civilizations, all of them having succumbed to madness and self destruction. Finally, when the make contact with non-insane aliens, they learn the truth. Humanity resides in a pocket of space that makes all sentient lifeforms within it go insane, yet humans are somehow immune. When the non-insane aliens see human ships coming out of their equivalent of the Bermuda triangle, they virtually crap their pants. The humans decide to play up their Cthulhu status, noting that it makes negotiations very easy and deters the aliens from attacking them. Funnily enough, humanity notes that the fact that they're essentially playing a galaxy-sized practical joke lends credence to the idea that they're actually a little crazy.
  • In the Minecraft Fanfic "Diary of a Creeper", humans are depicted as alien monstrosities capable and willing to slaughter everything in the world.
  • This video.
  • The sixth chapter of the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fanfic "The Monster Mash manages to do this without humans existing in-universe. Twilight casts a spell to look through reality and goes mad from the revelation - screaming about how people nopony else can see are watching her. After Pinkie Pie, who's known about these watchers all along, helps her come to terms with the situation, Twilight breaks the fourth wall to address the reader.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Peace on Earth, the classic MGM animated short.
  • "The User" in ReBoot. They rail against his/her taste in games, but come season 3, he/she does the right thing and restores Mainframe from its grim and gritty state. Expanding on that, the sprites respect and fear it, being a dangerous entity who challenges them in games and occasionally creates viruses, but at the same time sends upgrades and stuff to help the people out.
    • To be fair, the User probably doesn't know that winning a video game would reduce the entire sector it landed in to rubble and its inhabitants to mindless leech things.
  • South Park combined this with Gaia's Vengeance in the episode "Lice Capades", where we see the head lice of Clyde being warned by one of them that their "planet" is alive and rejecting their presence after seeing a gigantic eye looking down upon him from the sky (a school nurse, discovering Clyde's lice to begin with) before they are massacred by a liquid which dissolves their bodies (anti-lice shampoo) followed by a hurricane which decimates the survivors (caused by a hair dryer). At one point, one of the lice (still rejecting the idea that the world is alive) shoots several times into Clyde's skin, causing him to obliviously reach back and pluck him off and throw him to the ground. And given the fact that we're told that all of the kids in the class had lice...
    • Also in South Park, this time with "sea monkey" brine shrimp, in the episode aptly named "Simpsons Did It".
  • Played in The Simpsons with Lisa's tooth city in the Treehouse of Horror short "The Genesis Tub".
  • Futurama played with it in the episode "Godfellas", with the alien species who think Bender is their god and live on his body.
    • "Fear Of Bot Planet" takes place on a world of robots that think humans are the boogieman, er, men. A movie about a human terrorizing robots was made, and one robot tale of human horror is that they can bite you on the neck, suck out your transmission oil and turn their victim into a human. As it turns out, the leaders of the titular bot planet are aware of what losers humanity is, but keep use fear of humans as a way to distract the public from the real problems, such as a crippling lugnut shortage and a council of inept robot elders.
  • Done in I Am Weasel, where both I Am Weasel and I.R. Baboon made their own tiny society based on their own DNA. In the Simpsons version, it's vaguely implied, but not definitely stated, that the reason the tiny people develop so quickly is because they were created by Lisa's DNA (and electricity and Buzz Cola). In I Am Weasel, this is actually a plot point, since Weasel's people develop technology quickly and Baboon's don't.
  • A major plot point in the 2016 movie Sausage Party.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • See the Fridge tab for more ideas.
  • Some Indigenous peoples of various places have mistaken European Invaders for various things. The Aztecs didn't even realize the Spanish Conquistadors were human at first, because they'd never seen a horse, much less an armored man on an armored horse. They thought it was some kind of four legged monster with metal skin! The Native Americans mistook Columbus for a god, some tribes of Aborigines mistook white men for their own dead ancestors (because white people look like corpses to dark skinned people who've never seen a white person before) and of course there's the Cargo Cult.
  • There's a theory that Centaurs (half-men, half-horses) were inspired by sights of the first horse-riding peoples who tore through Greece and terrorized the locals.
  • Some Native Americans had legends about "pale skinned people who would come from the sea foam". As such, the European invaders were mistaken for these mythological people.
  • In South Africa a common word for a white person in "mlungu", which refers to sea foam. In both cases white people came via the sea and are more or less the same color as sea foam.
  • This same problem went double for the Aztecs: not only were they thrown off by the bizarre four-legged monsters and people made of metal, but in a real-life example of Contrived Coincidence, they also had a legend about how the pale-skinned god Quetzalcoatl was exiled across the ocean to the east, but would eventually return to reclaim his kingdom from his brother Tezcatlipoca. This added a certain amount of extra chaos when Hernando Cortez arrived.